Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eat In. Trader Joe's Vegetarian Pad Thai.

Trader Joe's has many great frozen dinners that aren't depressing to buy and eat.

Their Vegetable Pad Thai is a relatively new item, and it is one of the best on the shelves. An employee there recommended it to us when he was re-stocking, and he was so right. It's flavorful (in a Thai-peanut kind of way), has a nice texture, and I like that it's vegetarian without being overpowered with large tofu chunks. It has small pieces of tofu, but the noodles are really the majority of the dish (rightly so). This is a great buy for anyone that remotely enjoys Pad Thai.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Eat In. Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream.

I'm not sure if there's anything better then really good ice cream. There are some things that come close, but a scoop of amazing ice cream can make my day.

At a friend's house recently I saw the amazing funky flavors of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream in the freezer. There was the seasonal sweet corn with black raspberry, dark chocolate, and "Mackenzie Creamery Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries."

All were amazingly creamy, sweet, and very unique in flavor. The sweet corn was surprisingly sweet and creamy, and there was the barely detectable hint of its origin as an ear of corn.

Jeni's has other interesting ice cream combinations like Queen City Cayenne, Bangkok Peanut, and Wildberry Lavender. Their current seasonals also include Backyard Mint and Brown Butter Almond Brittle. Some Backyard Mint sounds amazing after a grilling dinner outdoors in our last few nights of summer.

These aren't exactly cheap though, being shipped in from Ohio. Jeni's sells at 4 pints for $48, or 6 for $68.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Arcade Fire's "We Used to Wait" video.

Arcade Fire just released an amazing, chart-topping new album, The Suburbs. And while it's not a concept album, per se, the record focuses immensely upon feelings of disillusionment, frustration, boredom and listless repetitiveness--the feelings many closely associate with the suburbs.

But the suburbs also remind people of their childhoods, and the neighborhoods where they grew up before venturing off to bigger, grander lands. This memory is what Arcade Fire has now tried invoke with its new, crazily-inventive music video for The Suburbs' "We Used to Wait."

To call it a music video is nearly insulting, though. The interactive experiment was created by Chris Milk and uses video technology mixed with Google Street View and Google Earth to give everyone a personal experience. How personal? To watch the video, you have to type in the address of where you grew up. The video does the rest.

(It's not as creepy as I just made it sound, I promise. Especially if you can get over your fear of pop-up windows and Boxcar Racer-like graphics.)

But before you click!: close everything else you may have running (including the BEAT, sadly), and if you're not on Google Chrome, you might as well download it because it barely works on Firefox and crashes on Safari. It's worth it. You may even get a little emotional. Now, go!

-- Chau Tu

Monday, August 30, 2010

Check It. Nerd Boyfriend.

It's all too easy to find out what/who/whatever current starlets are wearing. But what great male actors, authors, and musicians wear usually remains a mystery.

Nerd Boyfriend has the breakdown of some awesome outfits famous men have been seen wearing. My favorite is Dennis Hopper's "Slamxhype" outfit (seen above). Excellent glasses and jacket. But I'm also keen on Kurt Vonnegut and John Water's shoes, and the excellent suits worn by W.H. Auden, Cecil Day Lewis, and Stephen Spender.

Each vintage shot on the site has the outfits broken down by articles of clothing with a link to where you can buy similar cool guy/dork outfits. Some of the "Nerd Boyfriend" looks I think ladies could totally rock too, like Jackson Pollack's sandals .. or maybe not.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: Nerd Boyfriend.

Check It. Kanye West's "Monster" [The Monday Download].

In case you haven't been following Kanye West's infamous tweets (hey, we're on Twitter too!), you may have missed the news that the rapper is going to be releasing a new track every Friday until Christmas. And so last Friday came...and so did even better news: 'Ye's teaming up with Jay-Z to release a five-song album called Watch the Throne. And three hours later--there's the second track off that album, a (forgive me) monster of a song featuring the two awesome rappers, assisted by Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver). Check out the epic "Monster":

Thanks Kanye.

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Fresh Bites.

There's a new restaurant in town, and it's fresh and delicious. Within the past year or so, the Sunset/Fairfax area has been re-vamped quite a bit. Additions include Trader Joe's, CB2, The Veggie Grill, and now Fresh Bites.

From the owner of Beverly Hills' Basic Bites is a big, bright, airy, modern new space that serves everything from muffins to pasta dishes. Fresh squeezed juice concoctions are on most tables in the early hours of the day, and from omelettes to salads, it's all fresh and fulfilling.

Like Urth Caffe, Fresh Bites is not cheap for somewhere that you order at the counter, but it's not ridiculously expensive either, considering the high rent district it calls home.

Definitely a good stop for breakfast or lunch--haven't yet tried the dinner items.

Long hours are always a plus, 7:00 a.m. till 12:00 a.m. More info: (323) 822-2900

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Fresh Bites

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Do It. Buskerfest.

As part of Long Beach's Summer of Music festival, Buskerfest will be held today in Long Beach's East Village with several stages, a beer garden, and various LB-based bands.

Among the businesses open are District Wine, Sipology, and Creme de la Crepe.

I've only heard of one performer at this year's Buskerfest -- but she's a very talented lady. Besides, free music? Sounds exciting. And there's a free "bike valet" which kind of tickled me pink.

Performances start at 5:15 a.m. Buskerfest will be on Linden Avenue and 1st Street.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, August 27, 2010

Do It. Clueless at the Nuart.

The internet was recently graced with a beautiful video of Paul Rudd, prior to his rise as a Hollywood pretty boy stud, fulfilling his duties as a DJ at a bat mitzvah. He was really into limbo!

Now that you're in the mood for some old school Rudd, you can check out one of my favorites of his roles: the laid-back, unassumingly cute ex-stepbrother Josh in Clueless. The 90s movie starring Alicia Silverstone has surprisingly aged well, and is sure to bring back some great memories of weird fashions (knee high socks are back! And so are crop tops?) and funny catchphrases. And of course, it'll be great to see Brittany Murphy, so young and gawky. But it'll also probably make you wonder why we don't have a technology a la Cher's outfit-making closet yet. Whatever!

Clueless screens tonight at midnight at the Nuart, located at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A.

**And if you're in the mood for even more young Paul Rudd (and who isn't!?), the Academy Cinemas in Pasadena is screening Wet Hot American Summer at midnight on Saturday.

-- Chau Tu

Do It. Lit Crawl 2.

Summertime is one of the best times to get your reading on and this Saturday literature nerds can bare witness to a marathon of reading around Echo Park. Those who are gutsy/inspired to share their reading can share their own work at nearby Stories Bookshop, which will have an open mic for those willing to share their work.

Hosting will be LA Times-er Carolyn Kellogg, with Slake literary journal editors Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnelly. Writers are set to go head-to-head in a "no-holds-barred" read off, and will be judged on spirit and lyrical transcendence, and originality.

On the docket are Katie Arnoldi, Allison Burnett, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Dennis DanzigerSamantha Dunn, James Greer, Edan Lepucki, Joseph Mattson, Graham Moore, Neal Pollack, Rachel Resnick.

Among the stops on the crawl are El Prado, The Gold Room, Little Joy Cocktails, and The Shortstop -- all within walking distance of each other.

Lit Crawl 2 is set to begin at The Echo at 6 p.m. Attendees must be 21+. Entrance is free.

The Echo is located at 1822 W. Sunset Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Divine Light.

Beatrice inspired aspects of Dante's great work of Italian literature, The Divine Comedy. And now, 700 years later, their love has inspired a candle duo. I think it's a pretty cool idea, but I much prefer the Beatrice one to the one adorned with Dante's face.

Napoleon and Josephine are another couple featured in the collection, but they are currently sold out.

These would be great on 'his' and 'hers' bedside tables.

Available directly from Rock of Ages Press at, and at The Malibu Colony Co. $37.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Rock of Ages Press

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do It. Jenny and Johnny at Amoeba.

Whether she's with Rilo Kiley or on her own, Jenny Lewis always puts on a good show. I've seen Johnathan Rice (Lewis' boyfriend) join her on stage before, and it's a really impressive combination of talent. They obviously realize this too, and decided to collaborate with a band called Jenny and Johnny.

Their North American tour kicks off on Tuesday with a free show at Hollywood's Amoeba Music. I'd say this is definitely one of the better in-stores. Their album, I'm Having Fun Now, is also released Tuesday.

It doesn't sound like they'll be doing a signing after the show, but "special fan-pack buttons and pre-signed CD covers with purchase" will be available day-of in-store, while they last.

August 31 at 6:00 p.m. Amoeba Music is located at 6400 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. For more info: (323) 245-6400,

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Pitchfork

Advance Notice. B.A.M. Fest.

In another case of 'Why didn't we think of that before?', the B.A.M. Fest is giving people what they want: Beer, Art and Music. It can't get any simpler (or more sublime) than that, right?

And it's not even any ole beer. The outdoors fest is teaming up with the Library Alehouse to celebrate craft beer, and will be offering brews from over 20 different craft breweries. And did we mention that the tasting is unlimited? Unlimited!

But don't worry, you'll be able to walk off your buzz by enjoying the other parts of the fest: the art and music. There'll be open studios and galleries from local artists, including an installation by Create:Fixate and photography from Rick Mendoza, and sets from musicians like the Christopher Hawley Rollers. The Green Truck and the Big Swirl Truck will also be on hand to provide some epicurean supplements.

October still seems far away, but it'll be smart to buy your tickets now--they're only $30 until the end of August, when the price will then rise up to $35. All the proceeds will benefit the 18th Street Arts Center, which is a non-profit. So not only will you be having great beer, but you'll be helping out a great cause too. (And remember--it's unlimited tasting!)

The B.A.M. Fest will take place Saturday, Oct. 2 at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica.

-- Chau Tu

Advance Notice. Ghostbusters, Goonies, and Gremlins.

So it's finally become cool to totally nerd out in the open. With the comic-based "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," the popularity of the Twilight, True Blood, and other vampire series, it's totally OK to get your nerd on in public.

And just in time, a pop art exhibit is scheduled to open at Gallery 1988 devoted to the 1980s classics Goonies, Ghostbusters, and Gremlins. I don't know about Gremlins, they were kind of scary, but the Goonies and Ghostbusters are definitely 1980s favorites of mine and the new exhibit sounds like a fun.

Among those showing their stuff at Gallery 1988 are geek art designer Tom Whalen and illustrator Dave Perillo.

The 3G Show opens at Gallery 1988 Sept. 3 from 7-10 p.m. Gallery 1988 is located at 7020 Melrose Ave.

-- Lauren Williams

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Advance Notice. John Derian for Target.

The "East Village master of decoupage plates, trays, lamps, and other decorative items" as the New York Times' T Magazine Blog calls him, is back in L.A.--via Target.

When high-end designer John Derian's 2008 collection for Target was on shelves, I picked up a bathroom trash bin and a picture frame. This time 'round, there are more items I'm excited about. Trays, plates, and mugs, all in his signature style. The old-fashioned profile items are very cool, I think, and the three-tier tray (pictured above, $14.99) would be perfect for a tea party.

The line is officially in select stores Sunday September 5.

Target is located at 7100 Santa Monica Blvd. (at La Brea) in West Hollywood.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Target

Do It. Save your money.

These two websites, Groupon and LivingSocial are amazing for great deals around Los Angeles. Subscribers can get up to 90 percent discounts on a variety of things and services around Los Angeles, as well as recommendations to new and interesting places in LA.

I first found out about the two sites when a girlfriend told me about getting free money at the Gap. Something like $50 when you buy a $25 Groupon. Half off $50 worth of items at the Gap.

Hundreds of thousands of people responded, Groupons were sold every 10 seconds, and I realized I had to get on this bandwagon. Free money. It doesn't get much better then that.

In a time when people really are trying to cut back on eating out, buying new clothes, and luxuries like wine tastings and spa days, this let's you do some largely guiltless splurging -- since you're not actually splurging. This also has half-off unavoidable essentials, like handymen visits (Monday's deal).

This is also great if you're planning a trip out of town. If you want some luxury treatment at an incredible discount, these again are greats site to check out.

-- Lauren Williams

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Advance Notice. Alexa Chung for Madewell.

Alexa Chung is a British TV presenter and model who's known for having great style. She moved to Brooklyn to host her own MTV show, "It's On With Alexa Chung", but the show's now over and she's moving on to the designing world.

The news of the fall collection was reported by WWD in January, and is available September 9 online, and September 11 in stores. Long sweaters, skinny jeans, and vintage-style dresses populate the line.

When I got my new J. Crew catalogue over the weekend, a well-designed postcard slipped out, announcing the "Alexa Chung for Madewell" line. Madewell is part of the J. Crew group, and is a relatively new addition to Los Angeles malls like the Westfield Century City and Americana at Brand.

For more info:, (866) 544-1937.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Hike at Griffith Observatory.

This has to be my new favorite Los Angeles hiking spot. Although it's not quite as shady as Runyon, the view from the hills near the Griffith Observatory is unparalleled. You have the view of all of Los Angeles, including downtown's skyscrapers, the observatory, and an up-close view of the Hollywood sign.
The paths are also great. Not too steep an incline, well paved, and wide. When I went this weekend, it was packed, but even so the wide paths made passing and resting along the side easy without inconveniencing other hikers.
Parking is free and pretty ample and the trails are dog friendly. As my dog Homer and I went up the sidewalk to go to the trail closest to Griffith Observatory, we passed two other trails, so there's plenty of room to explore and enough reason to revisit.

I also hear this is an ideal spot to go for a sunset hike.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: the BEAT.

Drink It. Intelligentsia Pasadena [Guest Post].

Three years and one summer after breaking bean in Silver Lake and Venice, Intelligentsia, the couture coffee clubhouse hailing from Chicago, flew into Old Town Pasadena on its famous brewshtick with a shoulder-bumping grand opening party earlier this month.

The 73-seat lofty-aired space, with alley and sidewalk entrance, houses communal tables, church pews, wide open street side windows and electric blue walls perfect for a quick java fix or a sit-down lunch with small plates served up via chef Matthew Poley of Heirloom LA. The double bar is manned with primly trimmed and ‘stached baristas who’ll soon be slinging a different kind of brew in addition to the house blend: Los Feliz's Covell Bar GM Matthew Kaner will offer up a selection of wines and beers for the tap happy. Nummy pastries a la Bottega Louie and Cake Monkey Bakery are served daily, in addition to talks of Poley filtering in grilled cheese nights and a whole pig roast.

Beyond the bustling G.O. party (which had a line wrapped around the back alley), it’s been a quiet stream of laptop laden studs, modelesque espresso sippers, a woman dictating a script to the mysterious caller and the occasional hipster in for a routine inspection. All in all, just your average cuppa joes.

*A sweet treat must-try: Chocolate Locket Cookies Chocolate sable cookies (courtesy of Cake Monkey Bakery) are filled with house made caramel and sprinkled with Fleur de Sel. Life changing.

-- Nairi Najarian

Photo credit: Intelligentsia

Monday, August 23, 2010

Check It. iPhone 4.

After four years as a BlackBerry user, I made the switch this weekend to the iPhone 4. So far, I'm impressed. For all the negativity it's been getting, it certainly has a lot going for it. The GPS is fast and creepily accurate, the camera is crisp (5 mega pixels), and I haven't had a dropped call yet.

I've reached out to some fellow iPhone-toting friends for advice on what apps are the best, and so far I have eight: the Hipstamatic camera, Shazam, Facebook, ColorCapture, Epicurious, Starbucks, Yelp, and Real Level.

The alarm clock this morning was quite pleasant - bell tower.

My fingers are getting used to the screen tapping and getting quite accurate when typing. It's early on, but the ride's been good thus far.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. Radiolab [The Monday Download].

If you're a fan of This American Life (which you should be), it's time to check out one of their own favorites, Radiolab. Produced by WNYC, this radio show is like a science- and philosophy-oriented sister to TAL, using the same personal anecdote format to divulge further into certain themes. Hearing the words 'science' and 'philosophy' may throw some people off at first, but just as TAL is able to make the recession an interesting story, so can Radiolab with its own topics.

For example, Radiolab's show on "Numbers" followed a narrator to a convention of mathematicians, and focused on this peculiar way that these math geniuses identify themselves--by their Erdos number, or rather a sort of Six Degrees of Separation game played with a near-mythological mathematician named Paul Erdos as Kevin Bacon. There was also a show focusing on "Oops," which had hilarious stories about mistakes, minor and major, that people have made. And then there was "Words," which tried to imagine a world without words. Imagine! Radiolab tried. And they also had this fun video to go along with its podcast--can you 'see' all the words?:

Radiolab airs on KCRW on occasional Sundays (like if This American Life is in reruns), but to fully catch up on the episodes, download the podcasts or stream online at the Radiolab website. It's another great (and sadly, rare) example of what radio can do, so go out and support it!

-- Chau Tu

ps. Also, doesn't co-host Jad Abumrad sound like Ira Glass? Major plus.

Eat In. Raspberries and cottage cheese.

I recently saw an article about the wonders of cottage cheese in the New York Times, accompanied by this amazing recipe. Cottage cheese is amazing, packed with 14 grams of protein and very low fat and calories.

This recipe was absolutely delicious, and could either be a healthy breakfast, excellent dessert, or a nice snack. I made this for my family the other day and they loved it. It is so refreshing, healthy, and delicious, it's perfect for summer.

What you'll need:

1 package of frozen raspberries
1 package of cottage cheese (fat content is up to you)
1 package of plain yogurt ("")
1 lemon

What you'll do:

1. Put the raspberries in a bowl, and let them thaw with a bit of sugar over them.

2. Zest a lemon and pour a good bit of the juice from the lemon over it. This is key, it really makes the dish. I used a Meyer lemon from our garden and it was superb.

3. Blend equal parts cottage cheese and plain yogurt in the blender. I added a bit of honey to the mix in the blender because the plain yogurt was too tart for my taste.

4. Pour the raspberry mix over the yogurt/cottage cheese mix and you're all set.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, August 20, 2010

Advance Notice. Santa Monica Nordstrom opening.

People (myself included) are loving the new Santa Monica Place, and it's about to get better. Next Friday morning, August 27, a brand new Nordstrom opens at 10:00 a.m.

If you're an early bird (or a beauty junkie), check out the pre-opening Beauty Bash, which starts at 8:00 a.m. at the entrance in front of Nordstrom. There will be complimentary consultations, demonstrations, gifts with purchase, and breakfast treats as well.

The soon-to-be-opened Nordstrom is located at 220 Broadway in Santa Monica, Calif.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Cirque du Soleil at the Grove.

It's amazing to think that Cirque du Soleil has been around for years now, and they're still captivating us with every new show they open. Haven't been to Vegas to catch a show yet? Luckily for you, they're bringing the crazy acrobatics out of the desert and into our neighborhood.

Get a sneak peek at the amazingness of Cirque as six of the famous circus shows will be heading to the Grove for a special live performance this Sunday. For Summer of Cirque, performers from Mystère, “O”, Zumanity, KÀ, LOVE and Viva Elvis will be on hand for fun activities and performances that are free and open to the public. And for some reason, Criss Angel's Believe show is also scheduled to appear?

Either way, it sounds like a fun excuse to get outside and see some great performances, without wasting your gambling money.

Summer of Cirque will take place this Sunday with activities at 11am and performances at 1pm. The Grove is located 189 The Grove Dr. in Mid-City.

- Sunset Junction in Silver Lake
- Bryan Lee O'Malley signing at Giant Robot
- Test Kitchen with Red Medicine's Jordan Kahn
- Down and Derby Roller Disco at the Echo (Michael Jackson night)
- Disposable Film Festival Bike-In in Santa Monica

-- Chau Tu

Check It. 'Eat Pray Love' shopping.

Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's travel memoir, Cost Plus World Market has started a line of Italy-, India-, and Bali-inspired items including jewelry, boxes, incense, candles, and even furniture.

Some of the things that are being sold are a bit cheesy, but I love the India-inspired wraps and bangles, and Bali straw hats and Tibetan prayer flags. The Republic of Tea movie-inspired tea bags, buddha candleholder, and goofy necklaces, I can pass on.

The Los Angeles Times' Jeannine Stein has more on other places that are offering exotic shopping deals inspired by the movie.

-- Lauren Williams

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do It. Bryan Lee O'Malley at Giant Robot.

I absolutely loved Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It's disappointing to see that it probably won't make that much of a dent at the box office (that doesn't mean you shouldn't see it! Because you should!), but I'm sure it'll still amass its own cult following, just as the graphic novels it was based on has.

And speaking of the graphic novel series, don't forget that the latest and last edition in the Scott Pilgrim story was only recently released. If you haven't gotten your hands on it--or any of the others in the series--this Saturday may just be the perfect excuse. The man behind it all, Bryan Lee O'Malley, will be stopping by the Giant Robot shop to do some signing and apparently play the new Scott Pilgrim video game (which too should be could it not be?). O'Malley's known to be a super nice guy, and this is supposed to be his only upcoming appearance.

And while you're there at Giant Robot, you may as well check out its current exhibit, which happens to be by Philip Lumbang, aka the Awesome Bears dude. Awesome art and fun abound!

Giant Robot is located at 2062 Sawtelle Blvd. in West L.A. O'Malley will be there this Saturday at 5pm.

-- Chau Tu

Eat In. Domestic beers [Thirsty Thursdays!].

Domestic beers kind of have a bad rap. Other then Samuel Adams, which is a fine beer, the word "domestic" quite often is followed up by the words "watery" and "no flavor."

But there are some really amazing domestic beers, albeit not as widely distributed as other major companies. But the following couple of beers you can find at most Ralph's, Whole Foods Market, or BevMo!s. They do cost a few dollars more then some other brews, but a really nice beer is worth shelling out $2-$3 extra, right?

Here are some very good domestic beers:

Allagash White -- Made in the "Belgian tradition" in Portland, Maine this is a very light, crisp, tasty wheat beer with just enough spices.
Red Nectar -- From the Nectar Ale family of beers in Northern California, this beer has a strong taste and is a bit bitter, but delicious all the same. An amber colored ale, this definitely isn't lacking for flavor. Excellent on tap, this is a good beer to slowly sip.

Albita Purple Haze Beer -- A NOLA beer, this brew is kind of polarizing. For people who want their beer to taste yeasty, wheaty, and like good conventional beer this is not for you. While I'm all about those types of brews, Purple Haze has a really interesting flavor.

Containing a bit of raspberry puree you taste (and really smell) the raspberries first. Then you taste the flavor of the beer after drinking a bit. Best on tap, but still good in a bottle.

Linenkrugel's Sunset Wheat -- From Colorado this is a very citrusy and effervescent beer. Still with that wheaty taste, obviously, this is excellent for a hot day.

These are just four of some very good domestic beers out there.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Prop 8 Demonstration.

Earlier this month, same-sex couples (and supporters of marriage rights for everyone) celebrated when a federal judge struck down the ban on gay marriage. Unfortunately, the collective sigh of relief didn't last long, when a stay was placed on the ban. And now the wait is for the court of appeals to hear the case.

Tonight in West Hollywood gay rights activists are planning a demonstration (which is great, but honestly I hope it doesn't affect my evening commute home - there's been enough traffic this week with Obama's visit). The gathering will take place at Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente at 6:00 p.m.

The stay was originally supposed to be lifted Wednesday evening - so today West Hollywood officials had planned to wed gay couples.

Rather than a celebration, the fight for equality continues tonight.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Eat Out. Canter's Deli food truck.

At the Downtown LA Art Walk last Thursday there were at least 30 food trucks, from Vietnamese, Mexican, desserts. Everything.

But what I was most excited about was that my favorite place to get a pickle also has a food truck and they've brought their pickles with them. Canter's Deli on Fairfax has gotten caught up in the food truck craze, and is driving around Los Angeles with quite a few of their their deli mainstays.

To find out where they'll be, follow them on Twitter @canterstruck.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: Matt Wilkinson for the BEAT.

Check It. Dawn Cuts Grease.

Dawn dish soap is known for its grease-cutting effectiveness on pots, pans, and dishes. A recent discovery of mine is how well it works on getting a grease spot out of clothes. Up until just recently, if a shirt or pants of mine got a grease spot on it, I figured there was no way to fix it, and the item was just ruined for good.

My new favorite pants couldn't have this sad fate, even when I noticed a dime-sized grease spot on the front of the thigh area. I did some internet research on if grease spots can come out, and found the Dawn solution. I got a bottle (I actually use Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Lemon Verbena for dishes), squirted a dollop on, brushed it in gently with a new soft-bristled toothbrush, and let it set. Then squirted a little more on. The pants set for about twenty minutes, then I threw them in the wash with a load of laundry, and they came out greaseless.

I think the more times you have washed a garment post-stain, the less likely this is to work, but it is most definitely worth a try.

If you ride a bicycle, Dawn is also known to be a good bike wash (again, the grease-cutting goodness).

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Eat Out. Test Kitchen.

It's notoriously difficult to open a restaurant, and even more rare for it to be successful. So why not take a test drive, and bring some brave foodie customers along for the ride? Enter the Test Kitchen.

The Test Kitchen
is a new sort of restaurant, conceptualized to allow chefs try out new and different dishes in a setting outside of their own eateries. They get the chance to do some experimenting, and customers get the chance to eat dishes that are rare or maybe haven't even been done before. The chefs will also be working with mixologists, meaning there'll be some interesting drinks being formulated as well.

First up in the hot seat is Jordan Kahn, who just happens to be the best sort of example for what the Test Kitchen hopes to accomplish. Kahn is the chef from Red Medicine, a Vietnamese restaurant that hasn't opened yet, but already has a ton of hype behind it because it's being opened by Umami Burger's Adam Fleischman. For Test Kitchen, Kahn will be offering a $40 prix fixe menu ($10 for cocktails) for what is presumed to be Red Medicine's future offerings. And with caramelized chicken dumplings and a coconut cream dessert, it's already looking good. But of course, if you head to Test Kitchen, you'll know first!

But make your reservations now--Kahn will only be there from tonight until Sunday, to be followed by Chef Richard Zapate and others in the following weeks. Keep up with the chef line-up through the website or Facebook, and happy (experimental) eating!
The Test Kitchen is located at 9575 Pico Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

-- Chau Tu

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Check It. Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs.

Ray LaMontagne is one of my favorite musicians, and thankfully his albums age really well. Trouble is still great all the way through. It's always nice to have some new music, though, and today his fourth studio album is out, God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise.

The album cover reminds me of Ryan Adams & the Cardinals' Cold Roses - and LaMontagne with the Pariah Dogs are like Adams and the Cardinals. Talented touring bands backing great singers of today - but sometimes you kinda just want the singer on their own. Nevertheless, both are CDs worth having in your collection. You can listen to album tracks here on NPR music, including "Old Before Your Time", which I recommend.

Ray LaMontage is playing the Greek Theatre with David Gray September 10.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. The Smell soccer league.

For those who miss the old days of club soccer (who didn't do AYSO?), the small concert venue The Smell is organizing its third annual non-competitive soccer league.

Starting next Sunday those interested can meet up with other adult soccer players at the North Hollywood Park.

The soccer club will be meeting at 6 p.m. at 5211 Tujunga Ave. For directions call (510) 517-5339.

-- Lauren Williams

Eat Out. Tinga.

Mexican food isn't hard to come by here in Los Angeles, but light and fresh Mexican food can be. That's why new La Brea restaurant Tinga deserves a refreshing welcome, and repeat visits.

The story behind Tinga is that it's inspired by Santa Barbara favorite Super Rica, but I think it's a lighter, more high-end version that still delivers, and more. The restaurant is small but feels open, with high ceilings and a large window opening up to a couple outdoor tables. And the staff is more than welcoming; the owner (?) was already talking up customers like it was a neighborhood spot.

And it will be, if the food continues to be excellent. We opted for the Tinga, which is two tostadas with shredded chicken, lettuce and more (seen at bottom in the picture) and carne asada tacos (top). We also were convinced by the owner to get the Elote especial side, which is fresh corn mixed with cream, lime and salt, and the watermelon lemonade, and we were not disappointed in the least. The corn ended up being my favorite dish--fresh and with the perfect dash of lime, it makes for a great summer dish. Everything had the right amount of rich and spicy flavors without being too heavy, and despite looking like small portions, ended up being the perfect amount.

Dishes range in the $7-$10 range, which may feel like a lot at first, but the attention to detail is obvious. And as the summer (hopefully) heats up, Tinga's fare is exactly the type of light and flavorful food you'll want to be eating.

Tinga is located at 142 S. La Brea Ave. in Mid-City.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: the BEAT

Monday, August 16, 2010

Check It. $300 Million Yacht.

This $300 million Phillipe Starck-designed mega yacht has been spotted hanging out off the Malibu coast recently--and completely dwarfing it. It is known as "A" (see bottom left of photo) and is owned by a Russian billionaire.

NBC Los Angeles, one of the first to make note of the sighting, reports the yacht's travel from San Diego to San Francisco, "essentially spreading yacht envy to Californians everywhere".

The Wall Street Journal had an in-depth profile of "A" in April, which includes a slideshow of photos of some of the yacht's 23,600 square feet of living space.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. Movie clips from Quality Cafe [The Monday Download].

If you're driving down 7th Street in downtown looking for a cool old diner to stop into, don't even bother with Quality Cafe. That's because it doesn't actually exist..unless you're in movie-land.

The restaurant is basically a set, and has acted as a classic diner spot in movies like Ghost World and Training Day. Screen Junkies has a fun mash-up below:

A diner specifically acting as a set, starring in numerous Hollywood films--how quintessentially L.A. is that?

And while we're at it, here's another fun example of another oft-used Hollywood prop.

-- Chau Tu

Do It. The Daily Planet.

This was an excellent find by Leslie. A very cute bookstore/vintage card shop/last minute gift store, The Daily Planet on Franklin has very cute little items for birthdays or just gifts for no reason at all.

I love stationary and sending people snail mail, and the other day I found the perfect birthday cards here for a few people as well as a series of blank cards from Edward Gorey -- not exactly something you can find at any card shop.

Their choice of magazines are also pretty impressive, and although I came here looking for one specific item, I ended up leaving with a full bag of goodies.

The Daily Planet is located 5931 1/2 Franklin Avenue.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, August 13, 2010

Do It. Club 33.

If you ever get the chance to go to Club 33, do it. The mysterious club is in the heart of Disneyland's New Orleans Square, but that doesn't mean it's easily accessible. Entrance is only granted to members (they're not even accepting names for the waiting list at this point) or invited guests.

Club 33 isn't a nightclub (although, with its full bar, it is the only place at Disneyland to serve alcohol) with DJs and strobe lights--in fact, quite the opposite. It's more like a country club. There's a dress code, white tablecloths, big comfortable chairs, and fine china.

The great thing about being at Club 33, is that it's a second-story restaurant, so the balcony has views of the fireworks and shows at night without the hassle of being in the crowd on the street. It's pretty special to finish your Chateaubriand, step outside to catch Summer Nightastic, and come back in for dessert and a cappuccino. And then leave to make the line for Splash Mountain before midnight (not before paying a hefty bill though).

Walt Disney himself envisioned having this exclusive club, which is telling enough that it's worth checking out, if the chance comes up.

Club 33 is located at 33 Rue Royale in Disneyland - Anaheim, Calif.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT

Do It. Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers at Family.

Now that Lauren's told you about the awesome Family bookstore on Fairfax, it's time to check out the cool events they put on--like this Saturday's double book launch, featuring a Q&A and signing with filmmaker Spike Jonze and author Dave Eggers.

The two made a collaborative splash together last year when they released the film version of Where the Wild Things Are, but now they're promoting their separate projects (albeit together, which is cute). Jonze is representing a behind-the-scenes book about a short he released earlier this year named I'm Here, a sort of robot romance that stars one of my favorite new actors Andrew Garfield (he's going to be the 'new' Spiderman). Eggers, meanwhile, continues on his not-fiction run with his first book of drawings titled It Is Right to Draw Their Fur (I'm really hoping that's his work up there in the poster). He'll be interviewing Jonze for the Q&A, and then there'll be a live performance by Aska, whose music appeared in I'm Here.

Even with Jonze alone, this event is sure to be entertaining, but it'll be even greater to see the two friends play off of each other and support each other's works. Again, Family is pretty tiny, so be sure to get there way before the 8:30pm start time to grab a chance at meeting the two; it's doubtful you'll regret it.

Family is located at 436 N. Fairfax Ave. in Mid-City.

-- Chau Tu

Check It. LA noir books.

These are two of my favorite LA noir reads. Both published in the year 1939, they show a snapshot of Los Angeles when it was first getting popular.

"The Day of the Locust" is excellent, about a painter who comes to Los Angeles and gets his first glimpse of Hollywood, falling for a small-time starlet. This is also the origins of the name Homer Simpson, who is one of the bumbling oafish characters in the book.

A very good and quick read, this story almost always comes with another very good short story, "Miss Lonelyhearts" about a man who writes a women's advice column. Or you can just read it here.
I've heard that Raymond Chandler books are kind of hit and miss. Sometimes they're great .. and sometimes they're terrible. "The Big Sleep" is one of his great books.

About a gumshoe named Philip Marlowe (of course, what else would a 1939 book be about?) investigating a blackmailing case of a rich old man with two very beautiful daughters, Marlowe discovers this case isn't as clearcut as it would initially seem.

There are about 20 important characters in this book, with people dying and falling in love nearly every page.

What's great about this is you can imagine all the places that are named in the book, Marlowe driving down some Hollywood street. Everything about this novel describes vintage Los Angeles and Hollywood glitz.

This was also converted into a very good 1946 movie staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

-- Lauren Williams

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eat Out. Glendon Bar and Kitchen [Thirsty Thursdays!].

Thanks to the unsympathetic 10 and 405 freeways, you're never as stuck and hopeless as you are if you're in West L.A. during rush hour. But what a perfect excuse for a happy hour! Even in the equally sympathetic area of Westwood, reduced-priced drinks and food is a welcome distraction until traffic dies down.

The Glendon Bar and Kitchen understands. It offers not one, but two happy hours, where most things off their menu are HALF OFF. Pretty decent, I would say. That means you can get the delicious garlic fries (see above), which are crispy and not too garlic-y, for $4, or any of their good-sized pizzas (perfect for sharing between two people) for $6-7.50. Drinks-wise, you can grab wines for $6 or drafts for $4, or go for their martinis, which are $5 all day. If you're doing the math, you can easily have a few drinks and dinner for under $20!

Cheap grub comes at a small price though. The atmosphere when I sat at the bar for happy hour was quite a ruckus, thanks to a huge birthday party happening behind me. All the demands by the party made the bartenders obviously frazzled and distracted, so that meant we had to try and grab their attention on many occasions (we even got up to go get our own plate of fries sitting on the side of the bar because the bartenders were too busy to see it sitting there). We were forgiving because the service was nice when we got it, and we weren't in any rush to get drinks or food, but I can see this becoming a problem. Also, despite Glendon's close proximity to UCLA, the happy hour crowd was older and more business-type, but that may just be due to it being summer.

Come casual and prepared to sit back and you'll have a great time with great deals. I mean, it's better than sitting in traffic, right?

The Glendon Bar and Kitchen is located at 1071 Glendon Ave. in Westwood. Happy hours are every night at 4-7pm and 10pm-midnight.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: the BEAT

Check It. Animal Kingdom.

It's Friday the 13th at the end of this week, and that means time for a scary movie. While Animal Kingdom isn't a traditional 'horror movie' one might see, it's sure to be scary in its own right. The Australian crime/drama stars Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgarton, and Guy Pearce.

Limited release - August 13. It will be playing at the ArcLight Hollywood.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Eat Out. Greenblatt's.

I love a restaurant that's reliable for being open late. I also love a good matzo ball soup. Therefore, I suppose I love Greenblatt's. The West Hollywood Deli-Restaurant & Fine Wine Shop is open till 2:00 a.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year!

The matzo ball soup here is definitely my favorite in L.A. I don't have a Jewish grandmother's cooking to compare it to, but if I did, I'm pretty sure I would still prefer Greenblatt's. The matzo has a really nice density (not too fluffy), and the broth is filled with vegetables, making it much heartier, tastier, and generally better than a plain broth with just the matzo in it. It somehow seems more natural than Jerry's (my former favorite), and the chicken is always good - not weird bits.

Greenblatt's has easy take-away as well as pleasant eat-in. They also make great deli sandwiches, and serve Dr. Brown's sodas.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Do It. A Birthday Tribute to Charles Bukowski at Skylight Books.

Admittedly, I've never read much of Charles Bukowski's longer works and novels, but I am a huge fan of his poetry. His simple, blunt and honest observations about life were easy to understand and feel akin to, especially with him having been a proud L.A. resident often inspired by his surroundings. His musings on the city and its dwellers have proved to be one of the most memorable and influential, so much so that it can be hard to imagine L.A.'s identity with Bukowski.

Los Feliz's Skylight Books is a regular supporter of local writers, and so it would only make sense that they are set to celebrate of the greatest. This Saturday marks what would have been Bukowski's 90th birthday (he died in 1994), and Skylight will honor the author with a day of readings, screenings, giveaways and "of course drink." Bukowski undoubtedly lived a colorful life, so the stories to come out of this celebration are sure to be intriguing.

A Birthday Tribute to Charles Bukowski begins at 8pm on Saturday at Skylight Books, located at 1818 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Feliz. And if you're curious about his poetry, I'd recommend picking up at Skylight the awesomely titled posthumous collections What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire and Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way.

-- Chau Tu

Advance Notice. The Big C.

Laura Linney is great in everything she's in (The Squid and the Whale, The Savages) - so I'm expecting as much from the upcoming Showtime TV show, The Big C, which she stars in. Other cast members include Oliver Platt and Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe (from Precious). It will be really interesting, and hopefully impressive, to see so many big screen stars on the small screen.

In the Big C, Linney's Cathy finds out she has cancer, and decides to live life the way she wants--something new to the reserved schoolteacher.

Series premiere Monday August 16 at 10:30 p.m. on Showtime.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Art for Long Beach.

Today the Long Beach Arts Council along with We Love Long Beach and The Jazz Angels are hosting a fundraiser at the Long Beach Museum of Art to encourage LBers to either become a marathon runner or raise money for Long Beach arts.

Various performances will be held at the event including a performance by The Jazz Angels and three other groups of LB artists.

To hold a place at the event call (562) 570-1930. The event is running from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The Long Beach Museum of Art is located at 2300 Ocean Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Advance Notice. LA Times Food and Wine Fest.

There's never been a better time than now to be a foodie in Los Angeles, but with the plethora of food trucks and food fests all over the place, it can definitely feel overwhelming. If you're curious but too busy or lazy (or both) to try and weed through all the options, the L.A. Times may have the answer for you.

The newspaper (full disclosure: we three here at the BEAT were previously employed there) is set to hold its Celebration of Food and Wine event on Sept. 5th (Labor Day weekend), and the schedule is packed with demonstrations, tastings, signings and discussions from the best and most popular chefs around. Among the many exciting names of those scheduled to appear: Michael Voltaggio (trust me, you won't want to miss his food), Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Mark Peel, Suzanne Goin and Betty Fraser, as well as food trucks like Coolhaus and The Buttermilk Truck. And on top of all that, there'll be a concert with the awesome She & Him.

Tickets for the entire event are $55 each, which may seem a bit steep at first, but considering you'll be stuffed with delicious grub and get to see great entertainment, it isn't so bad. And if you're not interested in any food (though upon arrival, you may find this decision regrettable), you can catch the concert alone for $40.

The L.A. Times Celebration of Food and Wine takes place at Paramount Studios in Hollywood on Sept. 5.

-- Chau Tu

Advance Notice. David Lynch at Book Soup.

On Monday August 16, David Lynch (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr., Inland Empire) will be at Book Soup signing his new book, Dark Splendor. He'll also sign another piece of memorabilia with the book, if you like. The filmmaker has always been an artist also in other mediums, and this book is a compilation of his work.

If you can't make it to Book Soup, check out the book on Amazon.

Monday August 16 at 7:00 p.m. Book Soup is located at 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: