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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

#77: The New Breed of L.A. Cafes

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake at Joan's On Third

If Carrie Bradshaw lived in L.A., she would inevitably spend most of her days lunching at one of its many hip cafes. From M Cafe De Chaya on Melrose, Urth Cafe in Santa Monica/Hollywood to Clementine in West L.A., the places where the young and svelte come to sip a cup o joe and nibble on a whole wheat scone are many. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Joan's On Third, Hollywood

Joan's On Third is a cute and trendy cafe/pastry shop located on 3rd street in West Hollywood. They are famous for their cupcakes, which are displayed on tiered platters like precious pieces of art.

Brad and I were doing some window shopping on 3rd street (there are some great design stores there) and decided to pop in. For lunch we had a spinach and mushroom quiche, salmon cake, and an eggplant relish. For dessert, we got a peanut butter chocolate cupcake--a moist chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter filling. All I can say is that their cupcake fame is well deserved.

Eggplant Relish

Huckleberry, Santa Monica

Huckleberry is a cute bakery/cafe on Wilshire in Santa Monica. It is sister to the Rustic Canyon restaurant across the street. You order at the counter, and they bring out your food to your table.

Duck Hash: I am still dreaming of this hash...Shredded duck, potatoes, and greens mixed together in such a fresh and healthy meal. I would come back just for this dish!

Pumpkin spice bread: There is an extra dose of pumpkin on top of the bread in the form of pumpkin seeds! This is so moist, and it comes with a side of cream cheese.

Maple Bacon Biscuit: This is my favorite pastry that they offer. It has just a hint of maple sweetness and bacon-y saltiness. It's flaky and packed with bacon--perfect!

Quinoa Vegetable Salad: This healthy dish comes topped with two sunny side up eggs. The quinoa is very mild, but is perked up with some smokey roasted broccoli, onion and squash.

Bonus: refillable coffee!

Pumpkin Bread
Maple Bacon Biscuit

Monday, November 23, 2009

#76: Color Me Mine

I paint like a 5 year old. Thankfully at Color Me Mine in Santa Monica, I can be as messy as I like. The tables are covered with paper and the clay items to choose from are so pretty on their own that it's really hard to mess them up with a bad paint job.

Choosing my piece, I felt like a kid in a candy store... skulls, switch plates, piggy banks, cups, bowls, even unicorns... I played it safe and settled on a vase (skull, you and I will meet again!) . Then we took a table and chose our paint colors. After sketching a design in pencil, I proceeded to paint outside the lines. If you're not sure what to paint on your figurine, go online and search for an inspirational design. Print it and take it with you.

My Vase Before


Sunday, November 22, 2009

#75: Watts Towers

"From trash to treasure" pretty much sums up the Watts towers. The towers were built by an Italian construction worker Sabato "Sam" Rodia over a period of 33 years from 1921 to 1954. They were created with found objects such as glass bottles, sea shells and tile, and were built entirely by Rodia's hand. He even bent the towers' framework from scrap rebar and climbed the towers to install them.

It is sad that Rodia abandoned his property, supposedly due to abuse from his neighbors. The state then tried to demolish the towers, claiming that they weren't structurally sound. However, when they did tests on the towers with a crane, they found that the towers were so strong, they broke the crane! Thankfully, the towers were later purchased and turned into a historic landmark.

Do pay the small entry fee for a tour of the towers. Our tour guide was the most knowledgeable and friendly guy who obviously cared deeply about the towers. I will never forget the Watts towers--it inspires creativity and artistry, and it reminds us to walk to the beat of our own drums.

a boot in one of the concrete beams

the mailbox

Saturday, November 21, 2009

#74: Watts Day of the Drum Festival

Brad and I decided to make a day out of South L.A.. We started off in Watts to check out the Watts Towers but were distracted by the sounds of Taiko drums. Taiko drumming in Watts? I thought I was hearing things, but it turned out I was correct. We had stumbled upon the Watts Day of the Drum Festival.

A Latin band followed the Taiko drummers and the crowd swayed back and forth to the brassy music, clapping in time. It was beautiful seeing people of all races and backgrounds coming together in musical appreciation. You'll have to wait till next year for the next festival, but it's worth marking your calendars now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

#73: Forest Lawn Memorial, Glendale

The Grand Mausoleum

"Is M.J. here?" we asked at the entrance to the Forest Lawn Mausoleum in Glendale. The woman at the front shook her head no. She must get that question a hundred times each day. We knew better though--the funeral was all over the news.

Unfortunately, the woman told us that we just missed the mausoleum tour by a few minutes. When we came back an hour later, we had just missed it again. We decided it wasn't worth it to try a third time, and instead we explored the rest of the cemetery.

In L.A., no expense is spared for the rich, and that includes when they are laid to rest. This is the most well manicured cemetery I have ever laid eyes on. To top it off, there are beautiful stone statues everywhere and even an art museum. Although we didn't get to pay our respects to the gloved one (I think even on the tour, you don't get to see his grave), we did have an amazing time... In a cemetery of all places.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

#72: The Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building is located Downtown right across from Grand Central Market (mmm, pig snout anyone?). It was featured in films such as Blade Runner, Chinatown, Lethal Weapon 4 and 500 Days of Summer (in the last scene... kind of the odd one out of the bunch, I know).

The building is free to the public, but you can only walk up to the first level. What makes this building so intriguing is the fact that it was influenced by a book (Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy) that describes a utopian society in the year 2000. It's fascinating to see what people in the 1890's thought the world would look like a hundred years later. Although they missed the mark a little, the wrought iron railings, brick walls and tiling make this historic landmark a sight to behold.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

#71: Cirque Du Soleil in L.A.

Contortionist Act

Thankfully, we Angelenos don't need to drive all the way to Vegas to see Cirque Du Soleil. This high flying show makes frequent stops in our city, and recently they set up the big top on Santa Monica beach for Kooza. Kooza combines acrobatics and clowning, creating a magnificent show under the big tent on Santa Monica Beach.

While the juggler, tight rope walkers, and wheel of death acts were amazing, the act that really stole the show for me was the one featuring three female contortionists. The craziest part came at 5:00 on the video above. It looked like something from the exorcist, and the crowd went crazy!

Kooza is in town through December. Do check it out, but don't pay full price. You can get discount tickets on Goldstar, or better yet you can get 40% off select dates by signing up for their free Cirque Club. There is not a bad seat in the house because the tent is so small, but do try to get seats toward the center. Seats right behind the sound guy would be awesome because there's nothing obstructing your view.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#70: "Oh No You Didn't!" Desserts

Bacon Chocolate Bar from Animal
Photo from

I remember the first time I tasted the heavenly combination of bacon and chocolate; it was a Vosges bacon chocolate bar from Whole Foods, and the combination for me at the time was revolutionary. I call such a dessert a "Oh No You Didn't!" because it seems so unbelievable... Until you actually taste it :)

Here are a few more "Oh No You Didn't!" desserts you must try in L.A.

Ludo Lefebvre's Chocolate Cupcake Foie Gras Chantilly, Candied Bacon Almonds and Maple Syrup: Piled high upon a conventional chocolate cupcake are some incredibly unconventional toppings. The candied bacon almonds are chewy like toffee and the bacon adds a wonderful smokey aftertaste to the dessert. Chef Ludo was on Top Chef--did you see him? He is a mad scientist in the kitchen, and deserving of his own post (to come...)

Ludo Lefebvre's Vanilla Panna Cotta with Caramel and Caviar: Panna Cotta is quite standard, but the addition of caviar pushes this dessert over the top. It's a dish reminiscent of salted caramels, and it's worth every penny!

Animal's Bacon Chocolate Bar: If you like Vosges' Bacon Chocolate bar, you must try Animal's version. The chocolate is darker than the Vosges bar, and it's studded with peanuts. It melts in your mouth and is addictive. As its name implies, Animal loves (to serve) animals... Therefore, it only makes sense that the dessert includes meat as well!

Scoops Gelato: Scoops is known for their far out flavor combinations like Fig Wasabi, LSD (Lemon Strawberry Durian), toasted rice and goat cheese, brown bread, and Guinness Chocolate gelato. It's the work of a mad man, and I always look forward to the next surprise.