Monday, January 31, 2011

Advance Notice. Alicia Silverstone signing The Kind Diet.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my discovery of Alicia Silverstone's website/online community, The Kind Life, an extension of her book, The Kind Diet.

In March, she'll be at the Grove for an author event (which typically means discussion and signing) in celebration of the book coming out in paperback. It's now available for pre-order through Barnes & Noble for just $12.27 (a bargain compared to the $21.99 list price - not to mention the $29.99 hardcover).

I think I'll bring along my Clueless special "Whatever!" edition DVD to see if she'll sign that too (I was in 5th grade when the film came out and thought Cher was the just the coolest).

March 15 at 7:30 p.m. Info:, (323) 525-0270

189 The Grove Drive, Suite K 30 in Los Angeles (3rd and Fairfax)

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. Broadcast at the El Rey [The Monday Download].

Music lost a wonderful voice and presence in the passing of Broadcast's Trish Keenan earlier this month. If you missed out on the band's dreamy electronic sounds, it's never too late to start; and hey, we've even got an L.A. twist for you.

Buzz Bands has an amazing download of Broadcast playing at the El Rey on Nov. 1, 2000. The recording was ripped directly from the soundboard, so this isn't just a rough tape recording from the crowd. Check it out, and enjoy.

-- Chau Tu

Friday, January 28, 2011

Advance Notice. Tim Burton at LACMA.

A favorite Miracle Mile museum, LACMA, will be hosting a Tim Burton retrospective starting in May of this year and stretching into the end of October this year.

Some of the featured pieces includes art tied to Burton's movies as well as photography and writing that Burton has done.

The exhibit is first traveling to Australia and New York before making it's Los Angeles debut, according to the Los Angeles Times.

From LACMA's site:

On view at LACMA from May 29 through October 31, 2011, the exhibition brings
together over 700 drawings, paintings, photographs, moving-image works,
storyboards, puppets, concept artworks, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic
ephemera, including art from a number of unrealized and little-known
personal projects.

LACMA is also offering a special where with the price of membership museum members get two entry tickets to the exhibit. Those who join at the "patron" level get an invitation to the preview party.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: via the Los Angeles Times.

Advance Notice / Win It. Film Independent's Directors Close-Up.

We love good film here at the BEAT, so we're thrilled to announce our first reader giveaway: a pair of tickets to Film Independent's 2011 Directors Close-Up.

Panelists include directors Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right, Laurel Canyon), Matt Reeves ("Felicity", Let Me In), Nicole Holofcener (shown above directing the wonderful Catherine Keener in 2010's Please Give), and more.

Email us (at with Subject line "winner winner chicken dinner" by 9:00 a.m. PT Monday January 31) a few sentences about why you'd love to attend this series that includes such panels as "The Creative Team: Bringing the Vision to Life", "Writing and Directing", and "The Spirit of Independence: A Roundtable Discussion".

The series of five events runs February 2 through March 2 at West L.A.'s gorgeous Landmark theater.

Series passes are $180, and $150 for Film Independent members. Info:, (310) 432-1222.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. Mark Mothersbaugh and Shepard Fairey at Subliminal Projects.

I know Mark Mothersbaugh's name primarily as the original composer for many of Wes Anderson's films. But he is actually probably more known as the frontman for Devo (yep, that one), and he also happens to be an artist.

That art will now be on display alongside street artist Shepard Fairey, who came to worldwide fame with his Obama Hope poster in 2008. The exhibition is called The Big Picture, and focuses on the two's work as artists and philanthropists. Look for more of Fairey's bold, striking works -- he's long been known for his OBEY giants and propaganda-like art. Mothersbaugh's work is described as being postcard-size illustrations that, when enlarged into a bigger format, become a whimsical and detailed world. The two are being honored for their dedication to children's charity The Art of Elysium.

The Big Picture is showing now until February 19 at the Subliminal Projects gallery, located at 1331 W. Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park (by Dodger Stadium).

-- Chau Tu

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Do It. Learn how to make classic cocktails [Thirsty Thursdays!].

We Angelenos are surely spoiled by the fantastic cocktail options we have all over town. But sometimes, you can't always -- or don't want -- to go out and get that fancy drink. So why not learn how to make one yourself -- and be taught by one of L.A.'s own master mixologists? is offering a great deal on a mixology class this Sunday at The Varnish, the speakeasy hidden in the back of Cole's in downtown. And you'll be learning how to make drinks from the master himself, The Varnish's Eric Alperin. In two hours, he'll help you master all there is to know about cognac, including how to make a sidecar, Vieux Carré, Cognac Manhattan and an original Varnish recipe. It's $50 a pop for a person, but consider that you'll be tasting some really fine liquor, and that the ability to make your own drinks will be well worth it in no time.

As far as mixologists go, Alperin tops the list -- and not just in Los Angeles, but the world. Seriously, Alperin is up for the American Bartender of the Year award at this year's Tales of the Cocktail conference. And now he's sharing his secrets with you! If you can appreciate a good cognac, it's time to learn how to do it from one of the best.

"Master Cognac Cocktails" is taking place this Sunday, Jan. 30 from 6-8pm at The Varnish, located at 118 E. 6th St. in downtown (inside Cole's). Click here to buy tickets (time is running out!).

-- Chau Tu

Do It. Sephora opening at Americana at Brand.

Tomorrow morning a new Sephora is opening at Americana at Brand (the Grove's Glendale counterpart).

Josie Maran will be there for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m., and festivities to follow.

Sounds like a good time to get a Nars set, or some new Rosebud Perfume Co. lip balm for the winter months.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Americana at Brand is located at 889 Americana Way in Glendale.

Photo credit:

Eat In. Green bean side dish.

For a simple healthy(ish) side sauteed green beans with minced onions and mushrooms is the best.

Boil or steam the green beans until they get a nice darker green color. Then remove from heat and strain. Meanwhile sautee the minced onions and mushrooms in butter and salt. Mix in the green beans. Nuts, probably walnuts or almonds, would work well in this dish, too.

As with most dishes, this side is best with more butter.

-- Lauren Williams

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do It. Le beau Serge at LACMA.

French new wave director Claude Chabrol's 1958 directorial debut is playing at LACMA this Saturday evening. What a great idea for a date. Even better if followed by dinner at Comme Ça or the Chateau Marmont restaurant--or a Crêpe Suzette at the Farmers Market's French Crêpe Co.

Chabrol more recently made 2007's The Girl Cut in Two starring Ludivine Sagnier, before passing away last fall.

January 29 at 5:00 p.m. Admission is $5.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Info:, (323) 857-6000

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Eat In. Malo's Ground Beef and Pickle Taco.

Silverlake's Malo has a new sister restaurant that just opened up in downtown, called Mas Malo, that's creating a ton of buzz right now. But if you can't get a reservation, and are still craving those delicious tacos, enjoy some at home!

Malo's own Robert Luna divulged his secrets of the ground beef and pickle taco to KCET. Check out the recipe below:

Advance Notice. Oatmeal book tour.

The famous cartoons from The Oatmeal are being published into one book "Five Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth" and a book reading/signing will be taking place in Santa Monica this March.

The book will include never-before published comics and a pull out poster.

According to the event's Facebook page, the author will be "giving a lecture about how to properly train a bison to use the litter box and then signing copies of my new book."

The Oatmeal book tour will be at the Santa Monica Barnes and Nobel March 22 from 7-8 p.m.

Barnes and Nobel's Santa Monica location is at 1201 3rd Street.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. 'The Minimalist' signs off.

After 13 years of weekly food columns, The New York Times' Minimalist is signing off today for his last column.

Appearing weekly, "The Minimalist" chronicled the culinary feats of writer Mark Bittman in the New York Times.

In this column, Bittman has summarized some of his best ideas in cooking in this article for those who love to do their own cooking at home.

For all the foodies out there, check out his column today writing about his culinary triumphs and failures over the past decade and a half or so.

-- Lauren Williams

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eat In. Eggplant lasagna.

Pretty recently, I've grown to hate pasta. I think just having it too much at work and home, I'm always looking for an alternative to adding pasta, rice, or bread to anything.

So this recipe, given to me by a good friend, was perfect. Using thin slices of eggplant instead of sheets of lasagna noodles. Just layer tomato sauce, eggplant slices, and cheese. I made the tomato sauce from zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and crushed walnuts to give it a hearty texture and it was excellent, although I think the eggplant would be better if first rubbed with a little bit of olive oil and salt.

The results tasted a bit like ratatouille, lasagna, and casserole and is a healthier alternative to traditional lasagna.

For a more wintery, thicker lasagna, check out what the lasagna concoction I posted about last June, during our winter.

-- Lauren Williams

Eat In. Smoky fusilli goodness.

Last night for dinner, I tried to re-create a pasta dish from one of my favorite Italian restaurants in L.A. The "Fusilli con Melanzane e Scamorzaa" at Pane e Vino is so delicious. Before having it, I was not particularly a fan of smoked cheese. The smoked mozzarella in this dish though, gives the vegetarian meal such heft (in a good way).

On their menu it's simply described as "corkscrew pasta, smoked mozzarella, eggplant, tomato sauce". Simple enough--but a great combination I honestly wouldn't have come up with on my own.

I had an unopened jar of Trader Joe's Traditional Marinara Sauce in my cupboard, but stopped off at Gelson's for the other ingredients: De Cecco brand fusilli, a small eggplant, and both fresh small mozzarella balls, and smoked Gruyère (I couldn't find smoked mozzarella and didn't want to forgo the smoked flavor).

I rinsed, sliced into discs, chopped (into about 1/2 inch cubes), then rinsed again, and salted the eggplant. Apparently (in some quick research I did) eggplant has a tendency to be bitter, and rinsing and salting can help. I let the rinsed, salted eggplant sit in a colander for 10 or so minutes as I got everything else ready.

The rest was so easy--I just cooked the pasta, drained it, poured it into a large bowl with some marinara sauce at the bottom of it, threw in the eggplant and cheeses, tossed it all together, adding some more sauce along the way, then put it in the oven (at 325° F) for about 20 minutes for the cheeses to melt.


Pane e Vino is located at 8265 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. Info:, (323) 651-4600

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Advance Notice. Subscribe to the Hollywood Bowl's summer season.

Undoubtedly, this beautiful weather is making you dream of summer already. So you might as well start preparing.

Subscriptions to the Hollywood Bowl's 2011 summer season officially go on sale tomorrow. What better way to enjoy Los Angeles in the summer than a picnic, some wine and the gorgeous music at the Hollywood Bowl? And if you haven't seen the LA Phil's conductor Gustavo Dudamel at work -- this is the year to do it. He surely lives up to the hype, so don't miss out.

And don't think this means you have to stick to going to the Bowl every week of the summer or anything; there are a ton of different and flexible options. Check them out here.

-- Chau Tu

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eat Out. Brunch at the Chateau Marmont.

We had an impromptu fancy Sunday brunch yesterday, at a place I'd never brunched before: the Chateau Marmont. The legendary hotel has a great bar (Bar Marmont) and the restaurant is a well-known dinner destination (they're famous for steak frites). Brunch was something I had just never considered.

On the drive over, around 11:15 a.m., we passed the ridiculous Griddle Cafe, with their usual huge crowd outside, all waiting for tables where they'd consume huge stacks of pancakes while listening to blaring music.

For about the same cost (maybe a few dollars more), we got a shaded table for three on the serene patio of L.A.'s coolest hotel immediately. A giant pot of coffee, croque madame, pancakes, eggs benedict, iced teas, and bloody marys later, we were extremely satisfied with the service and the food, and of course the setting. We even spotted a hot Hollywood director. The patio is really good for seeing celebrities.

If you can't make it to West Hollywood to experience the Chateau yourself, it's featured in some films, including Laurel Canyon and Somewhere (I'd recommend Laurel Canyon of the two). There's also a great out-of-print book, The Chateau Marmont Hollywood Handbook available on Amazon.

Chateau Marmont Hotel and Bungalows is located at 8221 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Info: (323) 656-1010,

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Early morning yoga.

While looking for a place to practice yoga in my new town, I found some excellent yoga videos on YouTube that are full-length practices.

The video below is an excellent practice for the mornings, and the best part about it, you can do it at any hour and there's no embarrassing walk of shame if you have to cut out early to go to work. And it's free. There are all kinds of yoga videos on YouTube that you can do in your own home, but they vary in quality and length.

The downside is that there's no trained professional there if you do a move incorrectly or risk injuring yourself. But all the moves are standard yoga stretches, so even the most intermediate person should be able to do these exercises safely.

I like this video a lot and often do it in the mornings.

An excellent way to start the week off. Happy Monday!

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. PaleyFest 2011.

If you're a fan of TV -- and with all the wonderful choices out there on both network and cable, plus the ability to catch it all online, who isn't? -- then PaleyFest is for you.

Every year, the Paley Center for Media holds a two-weeklong fest featuring discussions and Q&As featuring creators and casts from TV's most beloved shows. And this year's got it all; look for events with True Blood, Community, The Walking Dead, American Idol, Eastbound and Down and more. There's even going to be a Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared reunion!

The festival takes place from March 4-17, but tickets for individual event have just gone on sale to the general public, so get on it! You might even consider buying a festival pass, or becoming a Paley Center member to get $10 off each ticket price. Otherwise, they range from $25-$75 for each event. Time to get up close and personal with your favorite TV people.

PaleyFest 2011 takes place from March 4-17 at the Saban Theatre, located at 8440 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

-- Chau Tu

Friday, January 21, 2011

Do It. Lord of the Rings triple feature.

The American Cinematheque always puts on great events (like Christmas Story screenings with hot chocolate parties, or Iron Man at the Aero with Robert Downey, Jr. there).

If you're a huge fan of LOTR, you may want to be at the historic Egyptian Theatre tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. to catch a triple feature of director's cuts of Peter Jackson's trilogy. This is a combined 632 minutes of Lord of the Rings.

If you can believe it, this is in celebration of it being ten years since the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Don't fill up on popcorn so you can enjoy a pub dinner at the nearby Cat & Fiddle afterwards.

Saturday January 22 at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $11 and available on Fandango, or at the box office.

The Egyptian Theater is located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

The Cat & Fiddle is located at 6530 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. This week in posts.

Taking a look at the posts we've put up this week, there's plenty of new places to eat out, recipes to make in, and culture to be had. Here are some of the things we've posted about recently that would be fun to check out, see, visit, eat, and drink this weekend.

--Eat Out: This week Leslie posted about some of Gwyneth Paltrow's favorite L.A. spots and gave some of her own commentary on each one.

--Do It: The Wright Stuff series -- a retrospective of Edgar Wright's movies is still happening at the New Beverly.

--Eat Out: Pitfire Pizza is always one of our favorite spots, so if you're in the North Hollywood or Downtown area this weekend and need somewhere to eat, keep this place in mind. Their steak salad is the best!

--Drink In: Remember the 20-minute rule we posted about if you're going to be drinking any wine this weekend.

--Make It: If you're one of the many people who've waited to do their laundry until this weekend, check this out for getting your whites their whitest.

-- Check It: And if you're not already smiling because it's almost the weekend, this video is sure to cheer you up.

-- the BEAT

Do It. Josie and the Pussycats at the Silent Movie Theatre.

Man, don't you miss the early '00s?

Ahh, yes. Who thought 2001 could get so dated so easily, right? This fun and strangely corporate brand-filled gem of a movie will be screening at the Silent Movie Theatre tomorrow, as the very appropriate centerpiece of the Cinefamily's "Cinefama Pajama Party IV," celebrating its 10th (!) anniversary. Yes, that means you can and should come dressed to the nines in your jammies, and indulge in the dance party afterward -- that song is pretty darn catchy, after all. Oh, and the co-directors and other special guests are scheduled to appear? Cross your fingers for Alan Cumming. Or Tara Reid.

Josie and the Pussycats is screening at 8pm on Saturday, Jan. 22nd at the Silent Movie Theatre, located at 611 N. Fairfax Ave. in Mid-City.

-- Chau Tu

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Drink In. The 20-minute rule [Thirsty Thursdays!].

When recently drinking wine with some friends I just found out the rule for drinking wine. For reds 20 minutes chilled in the fridge, and for whites 20 minutes outside the fridge so you get the whole flavor. And the friend that recommended I do this works at a winery -- it's Chile, of course -- so I'd like to imagine she knows what she's talking about.

A lot of people believe that reds should be served at room temperature, but they're actually best slightly chilled (who wants to drink red wine that's 70 degrees Fahrenheit?)

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: Wiki Commons

Eat Out. Whole Foods teriyaki bowls.

This photo doesn't exactly do my teriyaki tofu rice bowl justice. There's some condensation going on because I drove with the steaming bowl sealed shut from the 3rd & Fairfax Whole Foods to Los Feliz last night. But, when I got in and ate it, it was still delicious.

I've had the chicken option for lunch, too, and it's very tasty. You can choose white or dark meat chicken, which is cooked to perfection and really delicious drenched in sweet teriyaki.

Recently I made the switch for the most part from white to brown rice, and with a meal like this, the brown rice adds substantial flavor. Like having an actual other ingredient rather than just filler.

Bell peppers and bok choy round this out to be a great option for lunch or dinner.

Well-priced too - $6.05 for the tofu bowl. I think the white meat chicken bowl is close to $8.

Click here to find a Whole Foods Market near you.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT

Advance Notice. The Gold Standard 2011.

LA Weekly's food critic Jonathan Gold has become well-known even beyond just foodies and Angelenos, thanks to his simple and entertaining reviews of eateries and restaurants that we actually care about (and not just the snobby ones). He's always willing to offer up his own advice and tips, and that's become even more evident and possible with his Gold Standard event.

It's only the 3rd time this gluttony extravaganza has taken place, but it's already popular beyond words. But when you know the food's got Gold's stamp of approval, you also know you won't be disappointed. The Gold Standard 2011 is a tasting event taking place on Sunday, March 6th at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Expect bites from 40 Gold-approved local restaurants and food trucks (because you can't leave those out in LA!) like A-Frame, Chichen Itza, Jitlada, La Casita Mexicana, Manila Machine, Mozza, Park's BBQ, Slaw Dogs, Street, The Gorbals, and drinks from 30 wineries. A lot of food, a lot of wine, but you've got 4 hours, so hope for fast metabolism!

Tickets are $60 general admission (all food and drink is included!), $80 for VIP with early entry and a swag bag -- but if you act quickly, you can get $10 off that price by buying presale tickets until 10 a.m. this morning using the promo code GOLD 11. And don't hesitate! The event is popular, and no tickets will be sold at the door.

And if you need a primer, check out our review of last year's event. But don't worry, your stomach will surely leave this event happy.

The Gold Standard 2011 is happening Sunday, March 6th from 1-5pm at the Petersen Automotive Museum, located at 6060 Wilshire Blvd. in Miracle Mile.

-- Chau Tu

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Check It. Gwyneth Paltrow's L.A.

Love her or hate her, Gwyneth Paltrow is without a doubt a Hollywood success story. The Oscar winner spent her early years in Los Angeles, and still knows her way around this town.

A few recommendations from GP, via her website GOOP:

The London West Hollywood (the pomegranate lemonade is delicious - especially rooftop/poolside!)

La Scala (famous for their chopped salad)

Mozza (you really can't go wrong at the Osteria or the Pizzeria - Butterscotch Budino, yum.)

Chinois on Main (known for their catfish, and crispy spinach. delicious curry too.)

Cafe Luxxe on Montana Avenue (where she says "the lattes are not to be missed")

Paltrow has a cookbook due out in April, which her pal/culinary travel companion Mario Batali (Babbo, Mozza, The Spotted Pig, Eataly NYC, etc.) wrote the foreword for.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Eat Out. Tasty Garden Restaurant [Guest Post].

Trying to navigate the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese food can be pretty overwhelming when you're not Chinese, or a foodie at that, but a broken engagement with a colleague somehow found me here.

The aptly named Tasty Garden Restaurant, located on the constantly bustling Valley Blvd. in Alhambra, turned out to be a fun dining experience for my friend and I. Everything inside seems to reflect a departure from the typical Chinese decor one would encounter -- I was enamored by the turquoise tile lined mirror on one of the walls -- showing that perhaps, the place was not really catering to tourists, but rather, the residents of San Gabriel Valley, students and workers alike.

Philosophies aside, the service was pleasant. The servers seemed to follow the Westernized approach to customer service where they were always accommodating and nice. And they smiled too. We ordered the popular fare on the menu: French style filet mignon, fried pork, and fried rice. My filet mignon, not really a tender piece of steak, were really chunks of beef sauteed with a flavorful sauce and topped with green onions. The fried rice was delicious as well, but really, it wouldn't be right if a Chinese restaurant screwed up on your fried rice.

Our meal ended with dessert, and boy, did I not skimp on that. Tasty Garden is known for its Hong Kong waffle (pictured above), which I indulged in. It had enough crunch, but the eggs in the batter kept it from tasting too dry. My friend ordered one of the many puddings on the menu, which was also satisfying to her sweet tooth.

From its satisfying food, its great service, and its late night hours (it's open 'til 3am Fridays and Saturdays), Tasty Garden offers a great Chinese food option in Los Angeles.

Tasty Garden Restaurant is located at 288 W. Valley Blvd, Ste. 110 in Alhambra.

-- Muriel Nacar

Photo credit: Yelp

Check It. Portlandia.

Portlandia is an excellent new series on IFC staring Fred Armisen about the kinds of people who move to Portland, basically poking fun at upper middle class young white liberals.

The intro is totally spot on, and you can watch their 25-minute episodes and extras on IFC's website.

Below is their first episode.

-- Lauren Williams

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Check It. The Green Hornet.

Michel Gondry's new film, The Green Hornet, is really fun, and funny. The reviews haven't been the best, so I didn't go in with very high expectations, but it was actually laugh-out-loud funny, and an exciting action-packed movie-going experience.

Many notable Los Angeles locations were used, including the Los Angeles Times building and Olympic plant downtown, and the CAA building in Century City.

Seth Rogen was his usual hilarious (I think) self, and Jay Chou was standout as Kato.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Advance Notice. Tom Waits' chapbook.

One of my favorite musicians, Tom Waits, is releasing a chapbook on his website to raise money for homeless services.

The book goes on sale Feb.28, and will only be sold in limited editions online, with 1,000 copies being sold in the U.S. and 1,000 in Europe. His website is taking pre-orders.

The book is selling for about $25.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Open projector night at the Hammer.

Not every film that gets released is Oscar-worthy, and many others aren't even worth the $15 ticket price. So how best to get your money's worth?

See some films for free. Sure, some of the BYOfilms that end up on the screen at this Hammer Museum event tonight probably won't be anything extraordinary (and I'm being nice here), but you might also end up seeing some gems too. Open projector night is a free-for-all, and anything could happen. Maybe you'll see the first short of some future amazing filmmaker. Or you may not. But it's all in good fun, and it's some free entertainment for the night. Plus free popcorn and an open bar, and MC entertainment from comedian twins Jason and Randy Sklar.

And maybe even you perhaps have a short film to show? Don't rely on your best friend for their honest opinion. It's first come, first served to get on the screening list -- just make sure it's under 10 minutes and on a usual film media format. More info is here.

Martin Scorsese had to start somewhere.

Open Projector Night is happening tonight at 7:30pm at the Hammer Museum, located at 10899 Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood. The event is free.

-- Chau Tu

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eat Out. Pitfire North Hollywood.

It's been almost a year since I wrote about Pitfire Pizza, so I say it's high time for round two.

This past weekend I went to the North Hollywood arts district location, before seeing a movie at the ArcLight. There's a nice outdoor patio complete orange chairs and a large fire pit. It was quite crowded on Saturday night, which made for a pleasantly lively alfresco experience. Inside the bustling would have been just annoying, really.

Although the "rustic fire singed pizzas" and baked white macaroni and cheese looked delicious, I stuck with my favorite, the Grilled Steak Salad. And I actually also ate 1/2 a Pepperoni Pizza.

The salad is so good that I couldn't stop thinking about it, and made the journey back for a take-away order of it for my dinner tonight (Monday)!

Do yourself a favor and try Pitfire if you haven't already.

Locations: Downtown, North Hollywood, Culver City, and West L.A. Info:

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: LA Wad / flickr

Check It. What the world looked like on one day [The Monday Download].

What would it be like to experience the world in just one day? Something amazing, right? And just simply too impossible to imagine?

The internet makes anything possible.

From Tokyo to New York City to Istanbul to Rome, Morocco, Peru, London and beyond, witness the world in one day.

Thanks to Gizmodo for the tip.

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Jamba Juice coupons.

If you want to start the week off right by saving some money and eating/drinking something fresh, Jamba Juice is offering a few of the items on it's menu for $1-$2.

Oatmeal and a probiotic fruit and yogurt blend go for $1, and their coldbuster smoothie is $2.

The coupons last through Jan. 19, or this Wednesday.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, January 14, 2011

Check It. Favorite hand creams.

My hands always suffer from dry winter weather. My mom wisely always keeps a tube of Herbacín Kamille + Glycerine hand cream in her purse--and apparently so does Gretchen Mol.

For drugstore buys, I like Curél (which I recently couldn't find at the West Hollywood Rite Aid) and Aveeno. After unsuccessfully searching the drugstore shelves for some Curél early one morning, I ended up getting some supposedly fragrance free Eucerin (a really respectable line) hand cream. While it does moisturize well, it smells like sweat! Gross. So avoid that one.

My current favorite is the somewhat luxurious Jurlique hand cream. I have the Lavender one (which I thought would be good for bedtime applications, but I've actually been using it at my desk throughout the day. It smells so good.) but other scents they offer are Citrus, Jasmine, and Rose (I'd try Jasmine next).

Other favorites: Laura Mercier's Crème Brûlée Hand Crème smells delicious, and Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve is super thick and comforting, if you're looking for something more industrial strength.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. Sigg cleaning tablets.

If you're one of the many people who own a Swiss-made Sigg, you may have noticed that getting the inside of one of those things clean is all but impossible. The neck is tiny and no cleaning device really fits well in it, except these tiny cleaning tablets.

I'm all but convinced that this may be one of the many products that was constructed in such a way that you must buy a second product (like the $8 packet of tablets) but no matter. These tablets are excellent. They make your Sigg smell minty fresh, and are biodegradable incase you get the hankering to clean your Sigg while out in nature.

The tablets cost $8 or so on for a packet of 20.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Stephen Hawking at CalTech.

There's only so many chances that you might get to be in the presence of a true genius. This is one of them.

Stephen Hawking
, the theoretical physicist who's known for his works and insights on black holes and the universe, will be making an appearance at the Beckman Auditorium at CalTech University next Tuesday at 8pm. The event is free and is open to anyone, but be prepared to see some real enthusiasts getting in line early. But can you blame them? Hawking is infamous for his tremendous research and knowledge on basically everything involving space and physics, and he's also got quite the personality. It'll be interesting to see what he has planned for this appearance. Start pondering your questions now!

Stephen Hawking will be appearing at 8pm on Jan. 18 at the Beckman Auditorium at CalTech University, located at 332 S. Michigan Ave. in Pasadena.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: BBC News; Hawking experiencing zero-gravity

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Advance Notice. Steve Lopez at Book Soup.

Steve Lopez, one of L.A.'s most popular columnists (who I'm lucky enough to run into at the supermarket sometimes), has a new book out--a compilation of his best columns over the years.

Lopez was portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. in Joe Wright's 2009 film The Soloist.

He'll be a Book Soup two weeks from tonight to discuss and sign Dreams and Schemes: My Decade of Fun in the Sun (he joined the Los Angeles Times in May 2001).

January 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Book Soup is located at 8818 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Info: (310) 659-3110,

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures via

Check It. Spirit Air's $9 club.

By no means can this airline be mistaken for luxury, but what it is is affordable. Flyers are crammed into seats and the entire airplane is packed with people, but it gets you to your destination without dipping deep into the bank account.

Spirit Air has the lowest international flights I've ever seen, including some in their "$9 Club." I might have to check this out for my next visit back home. I've already seen deals that are less then half of my one-way ticket LAX to Santiago.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Edgar Wright at the New Beverly.

I've already professed my love for Edgar Wright here before, but I'm not ashamed to say again that the man knows how to make great movies. And if you need a refresher, here it is:

The New Beverly will be screening
Wright's three great features -- Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World -- on Friday and Saturday, with Wright and other special guests scheduled to make appearances (previous screenings of Scott Pilgrim at the New Bev have yielded nearly the entire cast). Understandably, the screenings have sold out of advance tickets, but this one is sure worth waiting in the standby line for -- but be sure to get there way before the 7:30pm start time.

But if you're awesome and have already seen all these films, you can still support Wright by seeing the rest of his curated series -- The Wright Stuff II -- at the New Bev. From Jan. 16-31, Wright is sponsoring screenings of awesome (and assumingly inspiring) films like Brazil, American Graffiti, Dirty Harry, Run Lola Run and The Warriors. He'll even be on hand the first week to introduce some of them. There are definitely some great double features he's put together that are worth seeing even if you aren't particularly a Wright fan. Check them out here.

Edgar Wright's screening series "The Wright Stuff II" is taking place Jan. 14-Jan. 31 at the New Beverly, located at 7165 W. Beverly Blvd. in Mid-City.

-- Chau Tu

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eat In. Couscous salad.

This messy-looking medley is a delicious mix of cold couscous with chopped mixed veggies. I discovered this dish when a friend was coming over one day for lunch. He was bringing the couscous, I had a variety of veggies. Now this is a staple in my kitchen for lunches.

Couscous has some amazing properties, high in protein, fiber, and some iron, so I try to add it to my diet as much as possible.

Some vegetables that go well in this dish are chopped tomatoes, green onions, red bell pepper, and avocado and cucumber make this very refreshing and light.

The avocado makes this dish a bit more satisfying, and it's an easy dish to make as a single serving. Just pour out a bit of couscous into a bowl (I think small grain not Israeli couscous works best for this dish) and add hot water. Then when it cools a bit add chopped vegetables. It's a very easy dish to make.

Season as you would any salad with any of the following: lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Pajamas.

Winter is the best time of year for cozy pajamas. Having a nice set of pajamas is great for hanging around at home on weekends, or having an early night any day of the week.

The Nick and Nora line (previously more high-end) is now sold by Target, and they have some classically cute designs (like clouds, and the owl-themed "It's a Hoot" pair pictured above).

Nordstrom of course has some good options, including Betsey Johnson and Munki Munki.

If you'd like a pair embroidered with your name, like Demi Moore has, this striped Ralph Lauren set has the option to personalize.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credits:, and

Eat Out. Local.

Finding a place to brunch on New Year's Day is not an easy thing to do -- everyone else out there is just as hungover and lazy as you are, and wants some good food in them to start the year out right. But somehow D and I lucked out, and came upon the awesome Local, located in Silverlake.

We originally picked the place -- even though we had never eaten there before -- because we figured its vast outdoor seating would help us to getting eating soon. It definitely exceeded expectations. It's one of those order-and-then-choose-a-spot-to-sit-in places, which can be annoying (i.e. Father's Office), but people seem to move in and out fairly quickly, and the waiters and waitresses always help out with getting you a table. And speaking of the service, the guy taking our orders at the register, although trying to handle a billion requests at once, was extremely cheerful and helpful, in the most genuine way possible. He was probably the owner, and he seemed to be completely in love with what he was doing. It was quite inspiring.

And then there was the food. I'm actually pretty sad I didn't take any pictures -- but we probably scarfed it down too quickly anyway. D got the breakfast sandwich, which was the special on the blackboard that day and looked amazing, while I stuck with whole wheat pancakes with eggs and bacon. I don't think I've actually had whole wheat pancakes before, and I don't even particularly like pancakes, but these had to be some of the best pancakes I'd ever had -- whole wheat or not. The wheat gave it a nuttiness that went perfectly with the sweetness of the butter. Totally mouth-watering. We also, for total over-indulgence reasons, ordered the spicy fries, which too, were delectable.

It's also good to mention that the food is mostly locally sourced and organic, and vegetarian friendly -- it is Silverlake, after all. Feeling good and having amazing food at the same time? A great way to start out the year.

Local is located at 2943 W. Sunset Blvd. in Silverlake.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Yelp

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do It. Mondrian Sessions at Skybar.

The Mondrian Sessions are back! This past fall, local record label IAMSOUND Records sponsored the bi-weekly event at the hip and swanky Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel, and now it's back for another round.

The sessions feature intimate performances by up and coming bands -- Men, Glasser and Warpaint are already among the alums. This time, they've got great must-see performers like Fool's Gold, Dum Dum Girls, Ted Leo and Zola Jesus coming up. And did we mention this was all free? Just gotta RSVP at (21+ only). Check out the Mondrian Hotel's Facebook page for more info -- the first performance is this Friday!

I happened to catch the always entertaining Jens Lekman in December, and totally loved it -- although you're separated from the performers by a classy pool, and you're surrounded by typical Hollywood and hipster types, you're still able to enjoy a pretty intimate performance. And considering Skybar's amazing view of the city, it's about as "L.A." as you can get -- but that's not a bad thing. Plus, it's free! You really can't pass this up.

Mondrian Sessions will be taking place Jan. 14-Apr. 8 at Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel, located at 8440 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Check here for more info.

-- Chau Tu

Eat In. Porto Rico coffee.

On a recent long layover in New York, I came across a forgotten favorite coffee bean vendor in the Lower East Side, Porto Rico coffee (A play on words -- porto because they import coffee).

I remember getting an affordable but tasty package of finely ground coffee here and loving it, and stepping inside the store, I saw they had a Guatemalan, shade grown, fair trade blend on sale. $4.00 for 1/2 lb. (which is still a bit pricey compared to Trader Joe's decent $2 blend). This however has so many good components I couldn't say no, and the color and smell of the beans were incredible.

Another plus was the "We deliver EVERYWHERE" sign in the window (although I'm willing to bet Santiago, Chile isn't included in that "everywhere").

Checking out their delivery service online you can immediately see this store has coffee down to a science. Blends are separated by origin, blend, roast, flavor, and organics. I definitely like the idea of buying by origin so you can take supporting certain small business in developing countries and global footprint into consideration ... how many miles the coffee traveled versus supporting small farmers in certain countries. This however, may be more thinking than coffee really needs.

The descriptions of each blend also help shoppers make an informed choice. The shop takes into consideration the acidity, roast, and flavor of each bean.

-- Lauren Williams

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eat Out. Crepes.

I love a good crepe. My best crepe memories are cold afternoons in Covent Garden's outdoor market, where there was a crepe stand at the right corner entrance. They were hot and delicious--just what you'd hope for on a bone-chilling (or rainy) London day.

The strawberry jam breakfast crepe photo above was taken last month at the Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Aria in Las Vegas. They make a great crepe, but right here in L.A. we have some pretty good creperies too.

The French Crêpe Co. has locations at Hollywood and Highland, and the Farmers Market (as well as in Downtown Burbank). I like the Farmers Market location, but the quality shouldn't vary too much across all three.

A great Long Beach restaurant that Lauren introduced me to when she was living there is La Crêperie Café. It's a really cute breakfast spot, but they're also open for lunch and dinner. We had a lovely long breakfast there one time with a couple other friends, where we all drank endless amounts of Lavazza coffee. Most girls at our table opted for savory items, but I couldn't resist the Maple Madness crepe (banana, walnuts, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and whipped cream).

Bon Appétit!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT

Check It. A cute cover of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's "Home" [The Monday Download].

I still remember the first time I saw Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros perform their song "Home," and how mesmerized I was by the passion and emotion the group put into it. The song has since become extremely popular, showing up on TV and the radio, inspiring many to try and put their own twist on the song -- but I still felt nothing could truly compare to that performance I saw back in 2009.

Until now. Out of nowhere, this adorable girl and her young dad have stolen the song for themselves and made it new and beautiful again. See for yourself (and try not to die from the cuteness):

The emotion! The passion! Could this little girl really understand what all the love and beauty that this song is all about? It seems so, amazingly. Try and not have a good day now that you've witnessed that.

-- Chau Tu

Eat In. Melitta single-cup coffee filter.

Right before I left for Santiago, Chile I was lamenting the lack of coffee in my life. To not drink coffee while in South America, it seems almost criminal. But coffee machines are too bulky, and being that I never know how long I'll stay, it hardly seems worth the investment in a good machine.

Just before I left, however, friend generously gave me her Melitta coffee filter, which is perfect for me. I'm the only habitual coffee drinker in the house, and it's light, easily portable, and affordable.

It fits snugly over a mug and brews just one cup, which is perfect for me. So if you just want one cup without investing in a bulky or expensive machine this is just the thing. And I bet it would be good to take camping.

A Melitta coffee filter costs just under $17.50 on and requires size No. 2 coffee filters.

-- Lauren Williams

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Check It. Jim Carrey on SNL tonight.

I'm going to watch Saturday Night Live tonight for the first time in a long time. Jim Carrey is hosting, and the Black Keys are the musical guests.

Some Newman's Own popcorn and lemonade sounds great as a viewing snack. Or a deliciously rich 'Milk' milkshake.

Tonight, NBC 4 - 11:29 p.m. till 1:00 a.m.

Milk is located at 7290 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. Info:

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Friday, January 7, 2011

Etc. Kate Spade love.

Pretty good resolution, right?

In searching for a 2011 planner (sadly the Moleskine I just got is strangely oily and smells basically like a tire, which is so annoying I need to find a replacement) I came across this. The text is what made me smile, but the pouch isn't bad either.

I've been a big fan of Spade's for more than a decade, and fortunately she's still going strong.

If you have a favorite planner to recommend, let us know!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Naked Gun/Airplane!/Drink Along/Beer Pong.

A drink-along and a round of beer pong isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind when trying to honor someone after their death, but for the always-hilarious actor Leslie Nielsen, it just makes sense.

The Downtown Independent will be hosting such an event this Saturday, to go along with screenings of Nielsen's best known works: Naked Gun and Airplane! It's sure to be interactive and absolutely insane, but that's exactly how Nielsen would have loved it.

"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

Naked Gun/Airplane!
/Drink Along/Beer Pong takes place beginning at 8pm (Airplane! to be shown at 10pm) at the Downtown Independent, located at 251 S. Main St. in downtown. Tickets are $10 in advance, and you can buy them here (first beer is free!).

-- Chau Tu

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eat Out. Melrose Night.

Last minute awesome Thursday night out event! Food trucks, plus 10% off at Urban Outfitters--what a great way to get the weekend started early.

We think it's worth going for LudoTruck alone.

If you can't make it tonight, this ongoing event will take place the first Thursday of every month.

Tonight, January 6, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Info:

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Melrose Night

Do It. Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Need another vacation already? How about a weekender to Palm Springs? The desert haven is usually reserved for trips to see grandparents or the stop before Coachella, but this weekend's got something special: the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

And this isn't just some locals-only, small film festival. It's a pretty big event, including the "largest selection of foreign language Oscar submissions of any film festival in the world." How about that? Beyond that are a plethora of other critically-acclaimed films, including Mike Leigh's Another Year, the Lance Bangs-directed and Spike Jonze-produced documentary The Lazarus Effect (for free!), and a retrospective on filmmaker Monte Hellman. Also look for a number of cool documentaries, films from up-and-coming filmmakers, and selections from past festivals. And even the stars come out -- Variety will be honoring Mark Wahlberg with its Indie Impact Award at the fest this weekend, and Michael Douglas will be receiving an Icon Award from the fest next Thursday.

It's definitely worth the trek if you're a film fan and can't make it to Sundance, and hey, you can't beat the Palm Springs weather, can you?

The Palm Springs International Film Festival begins today until Jan. 17. Check here for more details.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Etc. An open call for guest posts.

We're interested in having some guest writers on the BEAT!

If you'd like to write for the blog, please email us at with your ideas.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

-- the BEAT

Photo credit: Pottery Barn