Wednesday, September 30, 2009

#22: Molecular Gastronomy at The Bazaar

"Philly Cheese Steak" with air bread and Wagyu beef

Olives that pop in your mouth. A bite sized "Philly cheese steak" with Wagyu beef and air bread. A dessert made with liquid nitrogen...

If you're a fan of the show Top Chef, then you know what molecular gastronomy is. For those of you who aren't familiar with this way of cooking, here's a quote from wikipedia:

Molecular Gastronomy is a scientific discipline involving the study of physical and chemical processes that occur in cooking. It pertains to the mechanisms behind the transformation of ingredients in cooking and the social, artistic and technical components of culinary andgastronomic phenomena in general (from a scientific point of view).

When The Bazaar opened at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills not long ago, it became the hottest thing in town since David Beckham. Brad and I were so eager to dine here and secured a reservation the next week.

Stepping into The Bazaar for the first time, I felt like I was in Vegas. The electricity in the air, the eclectic over-the-top decor, and the bustle of servers coming out of every corner like ants in an ant hill all added to the Sin City vibe. And then the girl with the bright neon leotard walked past my table... This is L.A. aiiight.

We ordered:

Philly Cheese Steak: This made me smile. They are absolutely tiny, but worth the three bites. That's like $2.50 a bite!

Modern and Traditional Olives: This was an unusual dish that I'm glad we tried. The modern olives pop in your mouth immediately, and fill your mouth with a briny liquid.

Chicken bechamel fritters: These fritters were anything but greasy, and were small but filling. They tasted like a delicious chicken pot pie.

Cod fritters: I really loved the sweet aioli sauce that came with the fritters. Like the chicken ones, they weren't greasy, and quite mild in taste.

Not Your Everyday Caprese: I loved this dish! The server instructed us to put a tomato, mozzarella ball, and pesto all on the spoon and to eat it all in one bite. It was like a roller coaster in my mouth. Things were popping, salty, sweet, crunchy... MMMM... The ride was over quickly, but I felt like I'd just gotten off of Space Mountain.

Jamon Platter, Flight of all 3: Eating the Jamon Iberico de bellota was like eating Ham Toro. I almost wish I paid $4 more to get the full Jamon de bellota platter, but I then realized that I wouldn't have been able to fully appreciate the bellota as much if I had not tasted the cheaper versions first. The Serrano was ok--I could have gotten something like that at Whole Foods. The regular Iberico was fatty like the bellota, but chewier. And the Jamon Iberico de bellota? Melt in your mouth fatty hamminess. I will be dreaming about this.

We were then escorted to the
Patisserie, which made the night even better. It was like being escorted to a whole other restaurant! Sitting on a cozy couch for two, served by a super friendly waiter, we ordered the coffee (free refills, and really really good!). Perusing the cute pink dessert menu, and laughing at the page with 8 types of $10 waters, we decided on the Apple Carlota. This was not a sweet dessert at all. The ice cream was barely sweetened cream, and the saffron sauce was amazing.

After dinner, we hung out in the "gift shop" for a while and gawked at the
$120 plastic cutlery and the $950 photo of Justin Timberlake sunbathing. Only in Beverly Hills...

Not your everyday caprese.. Mozzarella balls that pop in your mouth!
Tortilla de patatas, new way with Egg 63 and Potato Foam
(The egg is slowly cooked at exactly 63 degrees)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

#21: The Adamson House

The Adamsons are a weatlhy tile making family whose Malibu house and grounds are now state owned and open to the public. I visited the house on a weekend and took the $5 tour with a few other people.

I have to admit, for the first 5 minutes, I was wondering what I got myself into. But as the tour progressed, I got more and more into it. Our tour guide was vivacious and made me appreciate the work that went into making this unique house and each individual tile.

Broken tiles at the doorways keep out the bad spirits

After the 45 minute tour, we took a walk around the grounds, which is right by the ocean and the lagoons. The scenery is just breathtaking. I would highly recommend checking this house out if you're in Malibu. Even if you don't have any interest in tile or tiled homes, by the time you finish the Adamson House tour in Malibu, you will at least come to appreciate what goes into this time-honored craft.

The back of the house

In the backyard

Monday, September 28, 2009

#20: Greystone Park and Mansion

Charlie's Angels, Big Lebowski, X-men, and Spider Man are just a handful of the many movies that have been filmed at this park and mansion. The grounds are picturesque, and deceptively large too. The mansion itself has a somewhat scandalous and mysterious background. Read about it here:

This is the perfect place for a picnic, or even a wedding--There was one going on when I was there. It was hardly crowded and the giant front lawn is immaculate. You can easily spend an hour here just appreciating the surroundings. The best part? It's FREE!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

#19: Natural History Museum

At the Bug Fair

Surely you have heard of L.A.'s Natural History Museum and perhaps have even visited it. Well here are three lesser-known reasons to visit this great museum:

1. The Bug Fair

Trust me, it's worth going to this annual event. I don't even like bugs. I go out of my way to kill bugs. But at the bug fair, there I was paying good money for bugs. Karmic retribution.

Here are just some of the things you can do at the bug fair:

Learn about the health benefits of leeches.
See a tarantula close up.
Hold a gigantic millipede in your hands.
Start a butterfly collection.
Buy a beetle necklace.

2. The Spider Pavilion

The Natural History Museum has a greenhouse that they turn into a spider or butterfly pavilion, depending on the season. Right now, it's spider season, and it's your chance to get face to face with a whole bunch of your 8-legged friends. And when I say face-to-face, I mean *duck*. You can literally walk face first into one of their webs if you're not careful!

3. First Fridays

If you haven't gone to First Fridays yet, you're missing out on a unique musical and cultural experience. Listening to indie bands in the great hall while stuffed lions and tigers stare at you from their cases is pretty neat in my book. This event is seasonal and starts around Spring.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

#18: The L.A. Derby Dolls

Photo from L.A. Eastside

Seeing the famed L.A. Derby Dolls in action was an amazing experience. The crowd was kooky and eclectic, the athletes were showmen (er... show-women), and the atmosphere was downright electric.

I got there about 20 minutes before the game started and the stands were already packed. After briefly browsing the shop tents and food stands, I was lucky enough to find a spot in the very back that actually still had a decent view. I would definitely recommend getting there early to score a good place, especially if you're on the shorter side like I am. If you are willing to shell out more cash, you can go the VIP route and have reserved seats in the bleachers.

Ok, so the LA team got creamed by the San Diego team. Thus, for most of the game, the crowd wasn't going especially crazy. However, when the LA team did score, the crowd went nuts. I need to go to another game, but one in which the teams are more evenly matched.

If you go, remember to buy your tickets in advance because it can sell out!

L.A. Derby Dolls

Friday, September 25, 2009

#17: Gardens Of The World

Who knew this little piece of paradise existed? The Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks reminded me of a way-shrunken down version of the Huntington Gardens, with all of its themed areas. Like the Huntington, it is immaculately manicured with not a speck of trash in sight. Unlike the Huntington (thankfully!) it was empty on a Saturday morning and FREE!

This garden is perfect for a lightweight like me because it only took 15-20 minutes to walk around (anymore, and I would have fainted from heat exhaustion). The only downside to the park is the gang of ninja bees guarding the adobe fountain--we couldn't get close enough to admire the fountain area because of these crazy critters. Ce la vie.

Be sure to check out the giant chess set in the front of the visitor's center. Love it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

#16: The Jimmy Kimmel Show

It was my dream as a little girl to see the guitarist Slash perform live, and Mr. Jimmy Kimmel finally made my dream come true. Too bad they didn't allow cameras inside for me to document it. Here's the 411:
A couple of weeks before the show, I went on 1iota dot com to get Jimmy Kimmel tickets. I was happy to find out that the show is taped right on Hollywood across from the Chinese theater, hence no long drive to Burbank. I got there about 30 minutes early, and thank goodness I didn't get there any later; the line was already really long. The earlier you get there, the better seats you will get, obviously. Sadly, I ended up in the second to the last row.
After impatiently listening to a basketball player and some unknown actor chat with Jimmy, it was time for the big show. They ushered us out the back into an open parking lot where a huge stage was set up. Scott Weiland did his weird squiggly dance moves, but during the entire show my eyes were focused solely on the man with the big hat. 
If you are coming specifically for a music act, I would suggest getting the outside tickets instead of the inside tickets. With the outside tickets, you watch the studio show from monitors in the parking lot. The benefit is that you get prime spots to see the outside show!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

#15: California Science Center

Photo by Travelpod

Bill Nye-approved! The California Science Center is like Disneyland for science geeks.

free museum is often overshadowed by its bigger named neighbors, specifically the Natural History Museum and USC. But to skip over the California Science Center would be a mistake. Not only do you have cool kid friendly permanent exhibits that highlight the life, chemical and physical sciences, but you also have an IMAX theater (Go to Under the Sea 3D! Freaky.), amazing visiting exhibits (who hasn't seen Body Worlds?), and a rose garden out back that would make any grandma swoon.

If you've got only limited time, a must see is the
giant robot man in the Life Sciences exhibit. I don't know how to describe it other than you enter a theater and get to see this giant robot guy show you how the body works. Weird? Definitely.

Walking around the center can stir up quite an appetite, so after you learn all about your body and how to keep it healthy, you can go to Mickey D's on the lower level and stuff your face with fries.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#14: Santa Monica Beach

A memorial to those lost in the war, Santa Monica Beach

Sure, it's touristy, crowded and there are warning signs posted about chemicals in the water. However, I still think that there is something attractive and nostalgic about Santa Monica beach.

What is there to do on this stretch of sand? First, walk along the paths and
gawk at the expensive beach houses that line the boardwalk. For a picture perfect lunch, bring a picnic and sit on the sand gazing at the gulls and the beautiful people. If you're the sporty type, play a game of beach volleyball then rent a tandem bike and ride into the sunset. Or if you're lucky, you might see something special such as the memorial to soldiers lost in the war, pictured above.

There are so many things to do on Santa Monica beach that there is no wonder it's so crowded...

Monday, September 21, 2009

#13: Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables

Bored in L.A.? How does horseback riding just underneath the Hollywood sign sound?

I came to Sunset Ranch Stables in Hollywood for the hour ride (any longer and I would have been hurtin for days!) and got paired with a nice small horsie named Crystal.

Ah, poor little Crystal--she was slower than the other horses, and when the guide told me to kick her to make her catch up, she would trot for three seconds and then go back to her normal slow walking. Come to think of it, she kind of reminded me of myself when I am forced to exercise.

On the way back to the stables, the kicking had no effect whatsoever. But despite my slow compadre, I had a blast.

One last thing--they don't take reservations. You just show up and wait ten minutes or so and then they take whoever's there out. Giddyup!

A group picture

Sunday, September 20, 2009

#12: The Bunny Museum

Have you ever encountered something so bizarre that it simultaneously scared and amazed you? Welcome to the Bunny Museum of Pasadena.

I own two bunnies, and I seriously love them, but I promised myself I would never start collecting bunny paraphernalia after stepping out of this place.

The Bunny Museum is smack dab in the middle of residential Pasadena. That's because this "museum" doubles as a house. Not sure which house it is? Well just look for the
giant bunny hedge sculpture ala Edward Scissorhands.

We got there at the same time as a family of 5, all of us bearing gifts of veggies and treats for the 3 bunnies that live in the museum/house. When I first got in, I really was taken aback; every square centimeter of this place was crammed with bunnies from floor to ceiling. There was literally no space for more!

Brad in the stuffed bunny room

How did all this bunny madness begin? The husband and wife decided to give each other a bunny every day as a token of their affection. Well, they are coming on their 17th year together... Assuming they are together until ripe old age, how will they fit any more bunnies into this place? Where's Clean House when you need it?

These are the owners' previous pet bunnies that are now stuffed.

Ok, well it was not all "mess". In fact, there was actually a method to the madness---the bunnies were organized into sections:
the bunny puzzle section, the bunny themed food section, the stuffed bunny room, etc. The coolest part of the museum was their deceased stuffed pet bunnies that they keep in a glass case. Are ya creeped out yet?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

#11: Kayaking in Long Beach

The place: Kayaks on the Water in Long Beach.

Our destination : Jellyfish grounds.

I am usually not the outdoorsy type, but once you prod me, I will begrudgingly get off the couch and do some "exercise". In this case, "exercise" consisted of me sitting in a two person kayak taking pictures while the other person paddled like crazy. Thanks Brad ;)

It didn't take very long to paddle out to the jellyfish grounds--about 20 minutes. When we got there, I was astounded; there were hundreds of jellyfish all around us!

Now who would have thought that you could actually hold a jellyfish? The species of jellies that live here don't sting, though they do make your hand feel a little tingly.

Fran with the jellyfish

After some great photo ops and witnessing one of the kids near us capsize while he was trying to grab a jellyfish, we finally decided to head back.

Kayaking in Long Beach was an amazing experience. You get wet, you may even sweat a little, and in the end you leave with a smile on your face and the memory of a tingly hand.