Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#92: Amoeba In Store Concerts

In a time when record stores are a dying breed, Amoeba Music in Hollywood is a last bastion for those still longing for the good old days of music (and who curse the day auto-tune was invented!).

In addition to buying and selling used CDs, DVDs and records, Amoeba also offers in store concerts. I saw The Shins perform there a while back. At these in store concerts, you stand wedged between the rows and rows of CDs (me on tippy toes). The shows are wonderfully intimate, and free!

Check out this link for the next set of live shows. Be sure to get there early because the place fills to capacity pretty quickly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

#91: Santa Monica Farmer's Market (Main Street)

Photo from seasonalchef

On Sundays, it seems that the whole city is at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Main Street. Horsie rides, local produce tents, a raw food vendor, oysters on the 1/2 shell, corn on the cob, tamales, make your own omelet station, kettle corn, hippie clothing... Somehow they manage to cram all of this into a space the size of a small parking lot.

The lawn out front is covered with people happily munching away and listening to the live jazz band. It's beautiful seeing families and friends converge in one place. If you're an early riser, grab your kid, your dog, your significant other, and get ready for a one of a kind experience!

#90: Santa Monica Farmer's Market (Arizona and 2nd/3rd Street)

Santa Monica has two farmers markets that I frequent. On Wednesdays and Saturdays it is on Arizona and 2nd/3rd street, and on Sundays it is on Main Street. On a trip to the Arizona farmer's market one Saturday, I recorded all that $60 got me:

-2 heirloom tomatoes
-2 avocados
-2 bunches of kale
-1 bag of mixed greens
-1 bag of collard greens
-3 frozen buffalo patties
-1 frozen buffalo sirloin
-1 whole chicken
-2 bunches parsley
-1 bunch cilantro
-3 peaches
-1 onion
-2 lemon cucumbers

All organic, and all so much tastier than you can ever get at the grocery store (yes, even you, Whole Foods!). Deserving special mention is the
chicken; you haven't tried a chicken until you've tried this one--free range, not fed corn or soy, just a chicken like nature intended.

Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Sunday, December 13, 2009

#89: Super Sized Whole Foods

Photo from

I've found the Mother Ship!
Stepping into the Venice Whole Foods, the first thing that hits you is that this store is humongous; an SUV could navigate the aisles (hybrid of course). And then there's the deli section... I could eat here every day for a year and not eat the same thing twice. I also must have seen four or five security guards walking around; it's nice to know that I'm safe when perusing the vegetable aisle.

Travel 15 minutes south, and you'll find another monster of a Whole Foods in El Segundo. There are dining areas within this Whole Foods! Sectioned off areas designated as "The Grill" and "Wine/Tapas Bar" have nice tables and cushy seating in the middle of the store. The hot foods/salad/deli section is as gargantuan as the Lincoln Blvd store, and they carry items that I have not seen in other W.F.s.
Whole Foods

#88: Museum of Jurassic Technology

Photo from metropolismag

If you are one of those people who has been living in LA for several years and find yourself getting a little bored with the usual stuff to do, visit The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City. The suggested donation is $3 for students and $5 for us working folk.

This "museum" pushes the boundary between museum and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. What's real? What's fake? You don't really know. Of course, there are some things that are definitely real because they are right in front of your eyes. Take for example the
pope in the eye of the needle. Crazy.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a great place to kill time and get transported into a weird world for a couple of hours.

Friday, December 4, 2009

#87: Self Realization Fellowship's Lake Shrine Temple

Photos from laplaces

The Self Realization Fellowship is a place where anyone can go and find some peace from big city life. It was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda and boasts a huge tranquil spring fed lake that houses swans, koi and ducks. I just discovered that the lake is available for weddings--perfect for a non-denominational ceremony.

Parking is free, but fills up quickly. If it does, you can find parking on side streets or on Sunset.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

#86: Eames House

After we stopped by the Eames Office in Santa Monica, the friendly woman working there pointed us towards the iconic Eames House, aka Case Study No. 8 House just off of Chautauqua Ave in the Pacific Palisades.

Once there, we were treated to a short tour of the grounds. You can't exactly step into the house itself, but all the doors are open so you can see inside. The Eames had such vision; it's amazing how a house built in 1949 can still look so modern fifty years later. The house was built as Charles and Ray Eames' home and studio. The level of detail they put into it is remarkable.

Visitation is free, although a donation is recommended. There's no parking on site, so just park on Corona Del Mar and walk a couple minutes. Also, fyi, although the address is 203 N Chautauqua Blvd, it's actually on a tiny side street off of Chautauqua.

from the original Santa Monica Pier

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

#85: Eames Office

Some people go crazy over sports, some over politics.. I flip out over chairs.

Stepping into the nondescript Eames office in Santa Monica, I spotted what would be my dream waiting-room: an entire collection of Eames chairs--all empty, all calling out to me to be sat in. Oh, and I sat. And sat. And sat. I felt like Goldilocks, except every chair I tried was "just right".

The Eames Office is really an office, gallery, museum and gift shop in one. You can peruse the displays and learn about the history of the Eames family, sit in original Eames chairs (not the plastic ones...), and purchase some cute holiday gifts... We were helped by a really friendly woman who gave us a lot of additional information and even pointed us towards the historic Eames house in the Palisades.

The Gift Shop Area of the the office. Yes, that's an Ikea bookcase.

So I didn't leave with a $3700 lounge, but I did pick up the Eames House Of Cards which is just about the coolest deck of cards I'd ever laid eyes on. It comes in small, medium and large sizes (mediums are shown in the pic at the top), and would make the perfect present for the architect and design lover in your circle. Buy the cards (or even better, a lounge chair) here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#84: Aquarium Of The Pacific

Garden of Eels

Well it's the first day of December and we're gonna kick it off in the LBC. A couple of weeks ago Brad had a weekday off and we decided to take a trip down to the Aquarium Of The Pacific. Luckily, we had two friends who were off of work too, so we all headed down in one car for some r+r (rays and reef sharks).

The aquarium is deceptively large. We spent over two hours looking at the displays. My favorites were the shark lagoon where you can pet rays and small sharks, the sea lions, the giant sea slug, garden of eels, and the jelly fish.

Brad and sea slug having a moment

There was also an outdoor section called the Lorikeet Bird Forest, which was thrilling.. Yes, I think that's the best word to describe it. The birds were so pretty to look at, and it was fascinating getting close to them. However, when one of the birds landed on Arthur's finger, it started to bite him (and it wouldn't stop!).

the bird plotting its attack

Arthur wasn't the only victim. As I stood at the exit to the forest, every little kid rushed out with a look of fear in his or her eyes. There was even one teary eyed boy sobbing that a bird flew into his eye. Yeah, birds are crazy.

Brad petting the sea creatures

Petting ray

Monday, November 30, 2009

#83: Attend a Movie Screening

Photo from docsthatrock

One of Brad's favorite musicians is Jack White, so we were thrilled when one of our friends in the movie industry invited us to the premiere of the movie It Might Get Loud starring Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge. Unfortunately, work got in the way at the last minute and we ended up unable to attend the event (which Jack White and Jimmy Page both attended!) :(. We were both incredibly bummed out, to say the least.

Fast forward a few months later and the same friend got us passes to a private screening of the movie. We headed over to the Ocean Avenue Screening Room and were treated to an intimate movie experience like no other. Their website boasts that celebrities like Tom Hanks, Al Pacino and Oliver Stone all use the Ocean Avenue Screening Room for their events. The room only seats 45 people and is located right next to Sushi Roku.

Don't have a friend in the movie industry? Check out these websites that offer free movie screenings to the public:

Brad on Ocean Ave. before screening

Sunday, November 29, 2009

#82: L.A.'s Independent Movie Theaters

photo from fbala

L.A. being the movie capital of the country, it's only fitting that there's a movie theater everywhere you turn. While
AMC, Pacific, and the other big movie chains do good business, it's always a more "personal" experience visiting an independent movie theater. The Downtown Independent, the Silent Movie Theater, and the Vista are popular theaters among the indie crowds.

One of my favorite theaters actually straddles both worlds. With stadium seating, memory foam cushions and multiple screening rooms, the Landmark Theaters at Westside Pavilion provides "big theater" amenities while specializing in indie films. Outside of the theater are rotating displays of the actual costumes worn in the films being shown. Furthermore, there's a wine bar and the newly opened Westside Tavern right next door. The best part about the Landmark is you can buy tickets online and reserve your seats days in advance. Recently, I saw This Is It and Where The Wild Things Are here right when they came out. No waiting in line, no fighting for seats... It was all taken care of by the online system.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

#81: Ludo Bites

As promised in #80: Oh No You Didn't Desserts! , here is a whole post dedicated to one of the most creative and dare I say shocking meals I have ever enjoyed. Now let me start by saying that Chef Ludo Lefebvre is not only one of the new breed of tattooed "rock star" chefs in the kitchen, he is also a nomadic culinary mad scientist. Yes, nomadic. Surprisingly, Chef Ludo doesn't have his own restaurant. Instead, he takes over restaurants guerilla style with little warning. His last take over was at the Breadbar in Mid-City West, and foodies converged on this little space like little hungry piggies. Speaking of piggies, did you see Chef Ludo freaking out over his pigs ear quesadillas on Top Chef Masters? How can you not instantly like the guy after that performance?

Ok, onto the food. We ordered:

Pork Belly, Asian Marinade, Mustard Ice Cream, Frisee, Vadouvan: My favorite dish of the night. The pork belly was melt in your mouth, and the mustard ice cream on top of the frisee was surprisingly refreshing after all that fatty pork.
Fried Chicken in Duck Fat, Fingerling Potato, Tapenade, Red Bell Pepper Ketchup: Tasted like good fried chicken. Not my favorite dish, but the red bell pepper ketchup was a nice addition.

Black Croque-Monsieur, Ham, Foie Gras, Cherry, Amaretto: I loved the presentation of this dish--ham sandwiched between two slabs of soot black toast with cherry sauce underneath. The toast isn't burnt--it's dyed with squid ink! It was like a piece of art and was so sinfully rich.
Vanilla Panna Cotta, Caramel, Caviar: Tiny. I mean, the size of a half dollar. The mix of salty, sweet and creamy always works. Great (tiny) dish.
Chocolate Cup Cake, Chantilly, Foie Gras, Candied Bacon-Almonds, Maple Syrup: I'm a sucker for chocolate paired with bacon. Geez louise, this was a CRAZY dessert. The candied bacon-almonds sprinkled on top were chewy, like toffee. The bacon added a wonderful smokey aftertaste to the dessert.
Oh, and did I mention the complimentary bread with lavender honey butter? I never knew butter could be so addictive!

Friday, November 27, 2009

#80: Holiday Shopping at Abbot Kinney

Photo from social meetup

If #79: West 3rd Street Design Shops didn't give you enough ideas for holiday gift shopping, here's another one. The artistic stretch of shops on Abbot Kinney in Venice offers unique shopping for the creative personality on your holiday list. I have spent hours perusing the eclectic offerings on this street. If you get hungry, stop by Gjelina for a rustic oven baked pizza. Here are a few of my favorite shops:

A+R Store: From the pantone mugs to the soaps in the shape of baby hands, everything in this store is something I'd want in my own home.

Tortoise General Store: Fine jewelry, art, furniture, Japanese housewares and books.

Intelligentsia: For your friend or loved one who takes coffee seriously. Maybe a little too seriously.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

#79: Holiday Shopping at West 3rd Street Design Shops

New Stone Age

If you're a design junkie like I am, West 3rd street in Mid City West is your playground. My favorite stores are:

New Stone Age: Stepping into New Stone Age feels like you just walked into a science lab. From moth drawn mugs to porcelain phrenology busts, the collection is refined modern gothic at its best.

Plastica: Everything plastic, from rubber boots to lawn mats to planters!

OK Store: A designer's must-see. OK Store is the kind of store that you want everything inside of it--jewelry, ceramics and books are their specialties.

OK Store

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

#78: The Helios House

The Helios House on the corner of Robertson and Olympic is not just a gas station. This Jetson-esque, solar powered, recyclable(!), LEED certified gas dispenser is the gas station of the future. The station features recycled glass in the concrete pavement, free "plantable" postcards with seeds embedded in them, and a state of the art restroom that looks like something out of dwell magazine. When you're going to the bathroom, you can even choose what music you want to listen to on a control panel.

Photo from azuremag

Photo from vanguarq