Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sound Bites 8.0: Sweet Lady Jane @ Santa Monica

Sweet Lady Jane makes some really beautiful cakes
Every time I drove by Sweet Lady Jane in West Hollywood, I wondered what cakes filled their cute shop.  I wondered no more after HC and I were invited by their PR to try their lunch menu and some sweets at their newly opened location in Santa Monica.

What we tried:
  • Grilled cheese sandwich with gruyere on walnut wheat bread - I had never had walnut wheat, so I was excited to try it.  The cheese wasn't as melted as I thought it would be, but they certainly didn't skimp on slices (there were 4)
  • Apricot tart
  • Triple layer berry cake - highly recommended by others.  I enjoyed the plump, fresh berries

  • Cream of asparagus soup - was thick without being too heavy and overly creamy
  • Albacore tuna salad sandwich on rosemary bread - the bread went perfectly with the scrumptious tuna salad

What to come back for:
  • Red velvet cupcakes
  • Any kind of pie - just because I'm curious how their pies taste
  • Chocolate anything - they looked SO good.  We just didn't have the stomach space for any more food

I know this isn't food-related, but this cute dog was
wandering around our table trying to eat our scraps


Thursday, December 9, 2010

High Note - Glee's "A Very Glee Christmas" Ep: Baby, It's Cold Outside

Usually I find Christmas songs very irritating and this episode was full of it, but the above song (that I've even found certain versions to be creepy) was untraditionally sung by two males and came off as sweet and endearing.  Plus it doesn't hurt that I love Kurt and am crushing on Blaine.

High Note runnerup:  Last Christmas
because it's one of the few Christmas songs that I don't mind hearing constantly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

High Note - Glee's "Special Education" Ep: Valerie

Loved all the dancing in Santana's number and she has a great voice. It never fails to impress.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

High Note - Glee's "The Substitue" Ep: Singin' in the Rain / Umbrella

I thought Gwyneth Paltrow was an odd choice for guest starring on Glee.  Then I was surprised by how many numbers she sang.  Next I actually found her likable (I'm not really a fan of her work besides Royal Tenenbaums).  Finally, I was impressed with the dance number and wondered why no one had thought of doing a mashup of these two songs before.

Looks like the idea occurred to Jamie Cullum last year, but it's not nearly as good or as catchy. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sound Bites 7.0: SugarFISH @ DTLA

If you're tired of hearing how great the new sugarFISH in downtown LA is, well too bad.  What I can do is keep it short and sweet.

Earlier this month, HC and I were invited by their PR to try The Nozawa, one of three Trust Me's (prix-fixe menus) offered.  Lele Massimi, co-owner of sugarFISH, took the time to sit down and give us some restaurant facts and menu recommendations.

It was the first time I had ever had warm rice in my sushi and I have to say it's going to be a difficult to go back to cold.  And I loved all their housemade ponzu sauces (original, yuzu, chili).

  • Salmon Sushi - okay, so it's one of my favorite types of sushi and I never go to a sushi restaurant without ordering at least 2 pieces if not more, but I've never had it with a sesame topping.  It really added to the already buttery flavor
    Photo by The Minty
  • Toro Hand Roll - I had heard that I wouldn't have time to stop and take a picture, but I didn't know I had about a minute before the entire hand roll would get soggy.  Before I had this hand roll, I didn't even know seaweed could be that crunchy.  The first bite was a crispy, buttery wave of flavor. 
    Photo via Harb Knock Life
  • Uni Sushi - really fresh 
    Photo via Harb Knock Life
  • Halibut Fin Sashimi - light and refreshing
Because we had to eat the sushi so fast (or else the delectable, warm rice will fall apart) I kind of wished the pairs of sushi came out one plate at a time, so I could better savor it.  The best solution is probably to split a Trust Me, like HC mentioned, and then order a la carte. 

It's rare to find a sushi restaurant that serves such high quality fish at sugarFISH's price point.  I've been craving their sushi since the day after our dinner there.  I can't wait to return.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sound Bites 6.0: Momfuku Milk Bar @ Manhattan, NY

I had to come here after hearing so much about it.  We picked up our snacks and ordered a few cocktails from the bar and enjoyed them on the mezzanine floor of Chambers hotel

What I tried:
  • Blueberry & Cream Cookie - which was my favorite out of all the sweets I tasted.  It was deliciously moist and just like having a blueberry muffin in the form of a cookie.  Plus it was still good even after a few days! (OK, I admit it, I saved this cookie for last because I already knew it was good since Kung Food Panda brought one back for me when he went to NY).  A recipe for these delectable cookies can be found here.
  • Photo by Momofuku for 2
  • Compost Cookie - aptly named seeing as it contained pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, chocolate chips.  My friend loved these cookies, so I tried it.  It was just too much for me.  I could taste a lot of the ingredients, but too much of a good thing isn't always good for my taste buds.
  • Crack Pie - one of their most talked about pastries.  I took one bite and my tongue was overwhelmed by sugar.  It was too sweet for me.  I could envision my dentist asking about my new cavities.  A recipe for this compressed sugar in a pie can be found here

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Picks from Stereogum’s 50 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2011

Photo via The Village Voice
Ok, I know Cake isn't even on the top 50 list, but I'm really excited because they haven't released a new album in 7 years!  

Here are the other bands off Stereogum's list that excite me:  

  • 02 Fiona Apple – TBA

  • 09 Cut CopyZonoscope (2/08 via Modular)

  • 10 Death Cab For Cutie – TBA (via Atlantic)

  • 13 Dr. DreDetox (February via Aftermath/Interscope)

  • 15 Foo Fighters – TBA

  • 18 Iron & WineKiss Each Other Clean (1/25 via Warner Bros.)

  • 21 Lady GagaBorn This Way (Interscope) - I've been a fan ever since I heard Bad Romance at a gay birthday party (really, all the guys were gay and knew all the lyrics to her song.  To this day, I have never seen so many well-dressed, attractive men all in one room) and on Glee.

  • 22 Lykke LiWounded Rhymes (3/1 via LL Recordings)

  • 35 Radiohead – TBA (via Teh Internetz)

  • 37 The Rome (Danger Mouse & Daniele Lupi) – The Rome

  • 38 Santigold – TBA - great first album.  Can't wait to hear more from her

  • 39 The Shins – TBA

  • 43 The Strokes – TBA - I'm hoping they incorporate some of Julian Casablancas' sound

  • 48 Kanye West & Jay-ZWatch The Throne (via Def Jam)

  • Akron/Family – S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (2/8 via Dead Oceans)
  • Beck – TBA
  • Cake – Showroom Of Compassion (1/11 via Upbeat)
  • The Get Up Kids – There Are Rules (via Quality Hill Records)
  • Gorillaz – TBA
  • Jane’s Addiction – TBA

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sound Bites 5.0: Osteria La Buca @ Mid-City LA

I first heard of Osteria La Buca when I read about the co-owner's mother leaving to start up Osteria Mamma.  I've driven by Osteria La Buca so many times and finally got the chance to try the food when I was invited by HC and Dan Cox last month when the restaurant was painted pink to promote National Breast Cancer Awareness. 
An electric motorcycle is used to make food deliveries. (Photo by Julie Wolfson via LAist)

My Favorites:
  • Pink Italian Rose Sangria - light and refreshing cocktail
  • Burrata, Prosciutto, Heirloom Tomatoes - I couldn't stop eating the tomatoes and who doesn't like prosciutto? 
  • Garlic Roasted Kale, Tomato, Fig Flat Bread Pizza - the kale was so tasty, I wish each slice had more of it.  The fig was a sweet surprise
  • Osso Buco Risotto - is a lot for one person to eat, but great for sharing family style
  • Tiramisu - was surprisingly light and I adored the topping design
    Photo by Jennio

Dishing Up Delights
Green LA Girl
Hungry Hungry Hanh

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sound Bites 4.0: Magnolia Bakery, Hatfield's @ Mid-City LA

Magnolia Bakery
I can't believe how fast Caroline on Crack  and BrandX wrote about the Magnolia Bakery preview.  They posted the very next day!  I, on the other hand, am very behind.  Check out Caroline on Crack's post for details about the cupcake and prosecco party and BrandX for some great photos

I was unaware of the free valet for the event, so I ended up parking a few blocks away.  I'm not sure if valet will always be free, but it should be available.  And if you'd prefer to just make a quick stop, there will be curbside pickup

HC and I felt like kids in a cupcake shop (to quote Caroline on Crack) when we were told we could try anything on display. 
HC's overwhelmed by sweet choices. 
Love the idea of cupcakes in an egg carton.
(Paying tribute to HC's new love of collages on his blog)
Some of what we tried:
  • Banana pudding - it was fluffy and ice cream-like, minus the ice
  • Brownie bites
  • S'mores cupcake 
  • Double crust apple pie - which is one of my favorite kinds of pies and the crust on this one was amazing
  • Lemon cornmeal shortbread
  • Pumpkin cupcake
  • The classic ice box cake 
My favorites:
  • Blueberry Jamboree ice box pie - not overbearingly sweet or heavy
  • Red velvet with a chocolate cookie crust mini cheesecake - having red velvet in cheesecake form WITH a chocolate crust just blew my mind with deliciousness
What I took home (Sidenote:  I only asked for the cookies and red velvet, but they were so nice when they offered to include the other desserts that I just couldn't turn them down!):
  • Chocolate chunk cookie
  • Oatmeal cookie
  • Pumpkin pecan with gingersnap crust mini cheesecake
  • Red velvet mini cheesecake - it was my favorite! I couldn't resist having another piece
  • Double crust apple pie 
  • Vanilla cupcake and chocolate cupcake - included in a lovely pastel green eco-friendly goody bag (also sold in-store).  I only had a chance to take a bite of the rich dark chocolate
What I have to go back and try:
  • White chocolate macadamia mini cheesecake - I wanted to try this so badly because it's my favorite type of cookie, but I felt guilty after having so many sweets
  • Snickers ice box pie - I was told this was delicious

After having sweets for dinner, we met up with Caroline on Crack and John, so HC could their Manhattan a second shot.  I had a Ginger Grant, which was refreshing.  I have to rave about how fantastic the popcorn at the bar is.  I went through 2 bowls, leaving HC with hardly any. 

Popcorn + Ginger Grant
Photo by HC

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box Limited Edition Set

    Photo via Slashfilm

    Warner Bros has announced the release of the Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box, a limited edition set which celebrates 25 years of creative collaboration between the duo. The box set features more than 19 hours of music, including fan-requested expansions of 13 film scores (in CD cases featuring artwork created by Burton), plus seven hours of previously unreleased music, a Tim Burton-designed USB skeleton Flash Drive containing MP3s of the whole collection, and a bonus DVD featuring an exclusive conversation between Elfman and Burton. -via Slashfilm

    I want this so badly, but why does it have to cost $500?!  Christmas gift?  Anyone?  Please?

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Sound Bites 3.0: The Woods, Dumont Burger @ Brooklyn, NY

    I don't claim to be a food connoisseur (honestly I haven't eaten at even half the amount of restaurants that LA's most popular food bloggers have eaten at), but I think hanging with HC has made my palate a bit more particular.  Since I've become more interested in cuisine lately, I thought I could make some future posts, dubbed Sound Bites (formerly Savor the Sounds), about my forays into food writing.  Again, I'm not an expert, these are just my opinions.

    The Woods
    Photo via NY Press
    We were wandering around Brooklyn (my first time in a borough other than Manhattan) and stumbled upon The Woods.  It was late afternoon and we entered because the decor we saw through the open window looked cool.  I was sick, so I was very disappointed I couldn't have a drink here, but they offer beers and alcohol minus the frills.  The place felt like it was a flea market, but with alcohol.  Liquor lined the shelves along with trinkets like animal skulls and odd statues.  It had a hip neighborhood bar kind of feel and a fantastic patio filled with picnic tables and benches merged with planters.
    The Woods Bar and Taco Truck Williamsburg Brooklyn
    Photo by Plate of the Day
    Free Williamsburg

    DuMont Burger
    DuMont Mini Burger
    I had the Dumont Mini Burger with sauteed mushrooms and fries.  Don't know why no one else has ever thought to cover their burger with grilled brioche.  The meat and mushrooms were so simple and delicious together.  Matt and his cousin both said it was the best burger they've ever had.  I think I have to agree.  I wasn't sure at the time, but even now I still can't think of having had a better burger.  The fries were kind of sweet and definitely the backup singers to the Beyonce of burgers, but that was alright because after the burger (even though it was a mini), I could barely eat anything else. 

    A Hamburger Today
    NY Times
    Plate of the Day

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Blogger Prom 2010


    I had heard of Yamashiro before, but I had no idea that it was hidden away on a hill just past The Magic Castle.  I've been to The Magic Castle and didn't even realize the restaurant was right above it. Yamashiro was such a beautiful venue, I just don't know how the Blogger Prom Committee's going to top that next year.  Can you believe the view from the entrance?  20100922_BloggerProm_Yamashiro_pano_1

    The landscape was just gorgeous:  perfectly full moon, no fog, dazzling lights.  This was a rare moment in my life as a Los Angelean where I actually thought my city was beautiful.  I was captivated by the view every time I stepped outside or glanced out one of Yamashiro's broad windows. 

    As I filed into check-in area with other glamorously dressed bloggers, I felt like I was taken out of Hollywood and dropped into an ancient Japanese palace.


    I still can't believe a place like this has been resting above Hollywood this entire time.  I must go back and check out the Farmer's Market before it ends in October. 


    I was surprised that we all only used one of the three drink tickets (the line got a bit long, but that's understandable since there was only one bar compared to having two at last year's Blogger Prom), but I definitely didn't feel like I needed the other two tickets thanks to The Dalmore, The Beer Chicks, and the after party at Test Kitchen.

    • Hukilau Poke Ahi, teardrop tomato, macadamia nuts, soy-sesame marinade on a wonton crisp
    • Charred Albacore with serrano chilis, blackened shallots, cilantro, tomatill-ponzu salsa on a tortilla chip - our favorite.  My companions had several 
    • Hoisin-Braised Kurobuta Pork with scallion risotto and honey-mustard sauce - I enjoyed the pork but not the risotto, my +1 doesn't really eat pork but liked the risotto.  This just couldn't win with us
    • Asian Baby Back Ribs with house-made BBQ sauce - I was surprised that this was served as finger food.  Seemed a bit messy, but Jennio and her date enjoyed them   

    • Miso-Sake Black Cod taco - wish we had gotten in line for the tacos right away because the table got popular real quick
    • Kleweno Farm's Smoked Sausage with Maple-Black Pepper Aioli taco
    • Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches - we absolutely loved their ice cream sandwiches.  I had the green tea ice cream between two chocolate cookies.  Their table looked great, like an old-fashioned candy store 
    • ChocolateBox Cafe Chocolates
    • Crumbs Cupcakes - I can't resist eating something that looks like a mini Hostess Cupcake   

    I noticed the live band was missing.  Turned out Dirty Martinis Jazz unreliably canceled a week before Blogger Prom.  Seems pretty unprofessional to bail so last minute and missed out on a lot of free publicity with all the tweeting going on all night.  Luckily, DJ Steve kept the party going with a variety of jazz music. 

    Goody Bags

    There's so much good stuff in there.  My goal is to try to make a day of it and use as many coupons and gift certificates as possible. 
    Photo by COFG
    I'm excited about:
    • Disney Tote - I <3 Disney!  The tote's the perfect size for carrying a book and a lunch to the park
    • Free Admission to The GRAMMY Museum - which I've always wanted to check out
    • Free Pass to The American Cinematheque
    • $5 Gift Card from Pinkberry
    • $10 Dining Certificate for Border Grill Truck - they serve awesome churros! 
    • Drink Coupon with Purchase of Meal at Hugo's - free drink with food that I already enjoy? YES!
    • Free Cupcake from Sprinkles - must redeem ASAP since it's expiring very soon
    • CostPlus World Market Chocolate Bar - mmmmmm, chocolate!

    Congrats to the Blogger Prom King and Queen, Food Marathon and JozJozJoz (photographed on left)!

    Photo by Heather Kincaid

    And thanks to 1933 Group for the drink token winnings!  I have my eye on some drinks at Thirsty Crow.

    Tom, Jennio, Winn

    Heather Kincaid's (great idea to have a photo booth and photographer there.  Hope Blogger Prom has her again next year) Blog and Photo Gallery
    Sure Beats Work
    LA Times / Image
    Naked City

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    The Juliana Theory @ The El Rey

    Since HC was my show companion, he didn't allow me to make just one stop throughout the night. 

    It was my first time eating a falafel and it was delicious.
    Photo from The Happy Hour Tour
    I couldn't believe how meaty (in a heavy kind of way) it felt even thought it was all vegetables...all tasty vegetables. 

    The pita strips were so light and crispy, like a healthier version of chips.
    Photo from The Happy Hour Tour

    Then we had my favorite menu item, the Street Cart Fries, which was a bit too heavy on the dressing at the Eagle Rock location compared to the Little Tokyo location.   
    Photo from The Happy Hour Tour
    We tried a half order of fries and a half order of sweet potato fries.  HC put it best when he said the sweet potato fries weren't bad, but they didn't really add much to the side order either.  I had to agree that the regular fries went so much better with the toppings.  I always find that there's always a risk when it comes to ordering sweet potato fries:  they can be great or disappointing.

    Colorado Wine Company
    Fortunately, it was Sangria Saturday.  Yay!  They serve one of the best sangrias I've ever had. 

    Luna Park
    We still had some time before the start of The Juliana Theory show, so we stopped here for a drink.  Little did I know, HC meant a Scorpion Bowl.

    The Juliana Theory
    Photo from The Juliana Theory FB Page
    We attended the fourth stop on their six-show anniversary tour for one of their best albums ever, Emotion is Dead.  We arrived around 9pm.  HC had an inkling that they were already them on stage, but I was in disbelief that they didn't have an opening act (and I admit, I didn't recognize the singer w/ his long hair).  Luckily, we didn't miss too much before we were on our way to the front.  I finally realized it was them when they started playing Don't Push Love Away.

    Not many people seem to know what I'm talking about when I bring up The Juliana Theory, but you wouldn't have been able to tell if you had been at The El Rey; the place was packed.  When they started playing We're at the Top of the World, everyone went crazy and started singing along; a mosh pit started forming.  Poor HC had just gotten a massage earlier that day and he was rubbing his punched shoulders after the show.  I was surprised they even had a mosh pit going for such mellow music, but everyone just got excited.

    Standout tracks for me were:
    We're at the Top of the World (To the Simple Two)
    Is Patience Still Waiting?
    Something Isn't Right Here
    You Always Say Goodnight, Goodnight (which was absolutely mesmerizing)
    Closest Thing (from Understand this is a Dream album.  They played songs from other albums mixed in with Emotion is Dead)

    I'm really glad I got to see them since I missed their shows during the height of their popularity in the late 90s / early 2000s.  I have to say they are still amazing.  Brett Detar's (vocalist) voice still sounds as good as it does on the albums. 

    Emotion is Dead Track List
    1. "Into the Dark" – 4:03
    2. "Don't Push Love Away" – 3:17
    3. "To the Tune of 5,000 Screaming Children" – 3:52
    4. "We're at the Top of the World (To the Simple Two)" – 3:17
    5. "Is Patience Still Waiting?" – 3:51
    6. "Emotion is Dead Pt. I" – 2:04
    7. "If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop?" – 3:52
    8. "We're Nothing Without You" – 4:14
    9. "Something Isn't Right Here" – 2:07
    10. "Understand the Dream Is Over" – 2:56
    11. "This Is Your Life" – 3:35
    12. "You Always Say Goodnight, Goodnight" – 9:30
    13. "Emotion is Dead Pt. II" – 4:45

    Luna Park
    Yes, back again, this time for dessert (Make Your Own S'mores - the graham crackers broke too easily because they were so thin) and Mini Bar.  

    Because the yakitori place a Colorado Wine Co patron mentioned looked pretty empty and suspect, we tried to go to Honda Ya, but got there right as the kitchen closed.  Ended up here because HC was starving.  I just wanted Spam onigiri, but HC added Hiyashi Rice, which was pretty tasty, kind of like a beef stew-type gravy over rice.  Very simple, but way too heavy for me to have as a late night snack.

    Yod BlogPublic Waste
    The Void Remains

    Sign up to download the new album from Brett Detar Bird in the Tangle for FREE

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

    Photo from Daemon's Movies (great photo BTW)
    Absurdly entertaining movie that sadly won't make as much money as, say, The Expendables (awesome in a corny 80s action movie kind of way) because the Scott Pilgrim-loving audience is so specific (nerds and geeks).  I'm not saying the audience is bad (hell, I'm a geek), but I think the general audience just won't get all the jokes, which the movie is chock-full of.  You get stuffed with pop culture references (per Edgar Wright's usual style.  BTW, Spaced is one of my favorite shows) until you burst into laughter, which happens almost nonstop.  I didn't even notice the movie was over two hours.  I wasn't as geeky as my two video game-loving companions, so I missed a few jokes here and there (I'm sorry I never passed Zelda :\ ), but they loved the movie and picked up on many small details that hardcore gamers would notice. 

    The movie was really well-cast; Michael Cera played Scott Pilgrim to a tee.  Kieran Culkin was a fantastic sidekick and Jason Schwartzman was perfect. Who knew Mary Elizabeth Winstead could so easily go from perky cheerleader to space punk tough chick. 

    I was surprised at how good the music was for all the made-up bands in the film.  Music had to be vital when the main character was named after a song. 

    With the likes of Beck, Nigel Godrich, Broken Social Scene, and The Rolling Stones contributing to the soundtrack, the music had to be exceptional. 

    Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World soundtrack:

    01 Sex Bob-Omb: "We Are Sex Bob-Omb"
    02 Plumtree: "Scott Pilgrim"
    03 Frank Black: "I Heard Ramona Sing"
    04 Beachwood Sparks: "By Your Side"
    05 Black Lips: "O Katrina!"
    06 Crash and the Boys: "I'm So Sad, So Very, Very Sad"
    07 Crash and the Boys: "We Hate You Please Die"
    08 Sex Bob-Omb: "Garbage Truck"
    09 T. Rex: "Teenage Dream"
    10 The Bluetones: "Sleazy Bed Track"
    11 Blood Red Shoes: "It's Getting Boring by the Sea"
    12 Metric: "Black Sheep"
    13 Sex Bob-Omb: "Threshold"
    14 Broken Social Scene: "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl"
    15 The Rolling Stones: "Under My Thumb"
    16 Beck: "Ramona (Acoustic)"
    17 Beck: "Ramona"
    18 Sex Bob-Omb: "Summertime"
    19 Brian LeBarton: "Threshold 8 Bit"

    More Reviews:
    NPR (comprehensive)
    NY Daily News

    Fun Interview:

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Empire of the Sun @ Henry Fonda Music Box

    Photo from Pretty Much Amazing
    Great reviews from LA Weekly and Golden Bloggen.  I caught Empire of the Sun on Friday, Day 3 of their 4-day stint at Henry Fonda.  My favorite song of the night, and the most radio-friendly, was We are the People

    Frontman Luke Steele put on a great show for being just one man, but I have to agree with LA Weekly that his dancers stole the show with their bizarre costumes and frantic dancing.  Favorite costumes of the night: the swordfish.

    Some people thought Steele's voice cracked a bit, but I didn't really notice because there were so many distractions from the stage show (screensaver style background, costumes, headdresses) and you have to give him some leeway when he's been singing for a third night in a row.  The music and singing was still good enough to dance to. 

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    Most Amazing Drummer Ever

    Where in the world did this guy learn how to play the drums?  and what's he doing in THAT band.

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Planet Earth Live @ Hollywood Bowl

    Since the Hollywood Bowl usually allows food, we decided to have a Porto's picnic:

    1. Meat pies - nice and flaky.  I can see why they make such good pastries.  Wish there was just a little more than just meat in there.  Veggies would have helped 
    2. Potato balls - free! But they got a little chewy because we waited a bit to eat them.  Note:  eat the potato balls ASAP
    3. Enjoying meat pies, and the free potato balls Porto's gave us #fb
    4. Potato Ball sandwich (a little dry.  Maybe because of the balls' exteriors or too much starch altogether) 
    5. Double Danish - cherry on one side, apple on the other.  Unfortunately, I was so full I only took one bite.  It was good though! 
    6. Tiramisu - really good despite being a little melted from the warm weather.   
    Maybe this should have been called a starchy picnic instead of a Porto's picnic.

    I've never seen the Planet Earth series (I know, shame on me), so I was really excited to finally see some of it, especially to the sounds of the LA Phil.  That weekend was the first time Hollywood Bowl used their HD screen located center stage, above the orchestra.  It was amazingly crisp and clear, like watching TV in your living room, but with better sound.

    Turned out, the conductor, George Fenton, wrote the music for Blue Planet and Planet Earth.  He made some humorous intros for each of the condensed episodes.  My fav episodes:  Babies, Predators (epic shots and music), Caves (the environment and animals looked so alien!), and Behind-the-Scenes.

    There were more kids at The Bowl than I'm used to seeing.  I was surprised they showed Predators with children present.  The episodes were beautifully shot.  I can't believe how many hours and months photographers wait just to get a 10 minute shot of an animal.  Editors must go through so many hours and hours of footage just to produce a single episode.  I really admire all the dedication and work that went into the series.

    The LA Phil was fantastic and I hope they decide to do this again because I think it's a great family activity.  Can't wait until they do Frozen Planet Live. 

      Tuesday, July 27, 2010


      Inception is probably the best film I've seen this year.  I haven't left a theater doubting reality like that since I watched the first Matrix.

      The trailer reveals the tip of what the film is actually about.  This review is going to sound kind of general because it'll be difficult to discuss it without ruining it for everyone and I think EVERYONE needs to see this movie.

      The fight scene was incredible.  It gave the impression of being in space, but still had human speed, adding up to a disorienting, but amazing action sequence. 

      Joseph Gordon Levitt has to be one of the best actors of our time.  He has been extremely convincing in the past movies I've seen him in (Brick, (500) Days of Summer, 10 Things I Hate About You) and he is no different in Inception.  His walk, his words (I adore his gravelly, private eye type voice), his look (loved his flawlessly pressed, neat suits), his mannerisms made me believe he was this extremely serious character and helped to make him the perfect straight man in certain scenes.  Leonardo DiCaprio looked ratlike to me, but I think that emphasized the deceptions he participated in.  I adored Ellen Page's Asexual Chic wardrobe, which  came off as Parisian / Bonnie & Clyde (I wanted all her handkerchiefs, except for the western hipster one) meets 1940s professor (loved all the vests and blazers).

      Photo from OnlineMoviesHut
      Was it just me or did anyone else find it ironic that Cillian Murphy, who played Scarecrow, was in another movie about dreams?  Marion Cotillard really scared the poop out of me in one scene where her eyes were bulging.  I almost thought her head was going to start spinning around.  She convincingly conveyed mystery and fear through her mood swings.

      The soundtrack, which was written and composed by Hans Zimmer, really enhanced the film by creating so many different levels of anxiety through fantastic string arrangements that made me think of large machines and machinations.  I think the score is right up there with Jaws' in instant recognizability. Also, it won't sound outdated when you watch the film years later, unlike The Matrix, which obviously sounds like the 90s. 

      Visual Effects

      Wednesday, July 21, 2010

      Good Music + Good Food = Good Idea

      Photo from last.fm
       It's a great idea to pair She & Him (a band that appeals to the musical tastes of any age) with great food from the likes of Ludo Lefebvre, Mark Peel, and others for Los Angeles Times' Celebration of Food & Wine on Sept. 5. 

      And what?  Lollapalooza tapped Chicago chef Graham Elliot Bowles to curate the festival's food options (Pop & Hiss).  I wish more festivals would do that because it's pretty common to expect overpriced crappy food at music festivals.  If we're going to pay so much money to go to these festivals, we might as well be served good food.

      Monday, July 19, 2010

      Blogger Prom 2010 Announces Venue & Date

      So, it's that time of year again and Blogger Prom is just around the corner.  It was born last year with high expectations that were definitely met and exceeded with a great venue, goody bags, and food.  This year's venue has just been announced and it will be the theme of Hollywood Confidential on September 22, 2010 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the beautiful Yamashiro Restaurant.

      Photo from Blogger Prom
      I just finished watching LA Confidential and I can't wait to see all the bloggers in their glamorous, old Hollywood getups!

      Also, I hear Blogger Prom is looking for a big band.  Possibly to play live during Blogger Prom, which would be fantastic!  I would LOVE it if everyone started swing dancing on the floor!  It sounds like the band would be paid in publicity, but trust me, Blogger Prom provides amazing publicity.  So, if you are a big band or know of one (my dream is to have Squirrel Nut Zippers play there), please contact EstarLA by email or twitter.  

      More from some of the Blogger Prom committee:
      Caroline on Crack
      Happy Go Marni
      Tara Met Blog

      Wednesday, June 16, 2010

      Hot Hot Heat @ One Colorado, Pasadena

      I had always wanted to see Hot Hot Heat live and had heard about the show at One Colorado, Pasadena from The Scenestar.  I loved their first two albums and their EP Knock Knock Knock.  Honestly, their album Happiness Ltd. wasn't even on my radar (I know, I'm a bad HHH fan.  I will definitely listen to it now that I know about it!). 

      Hot Hot Heat was entertaining, teasing the Il Fornaio patrons, and joking around with the audience.  Due to the outdoor being enclosed by neighboring businesses, they had to play a semi-acoustic set, which I thought was a fantastic reinterpretation of their past and present tracks.  I loved the acoustic guitar put to keyboard and occasionally synthesized vocals.  The songs sounded almost entirely different, but still great.  Steve Bays voice sounds just like it does on CD.  Impressive.  My favorite songs of the night:
      1. Get In or Get Out
      2. Oh, Goddamnit
      3. Middle of Nowhere
      4. Running Out of Time
      5. Jingle Jangle
      Hearing some of the new songs live got me really excited about their latest album Future Breeds.

      Friday, June 11, 2010

      Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" Video

      Hey Lady Gaga, 1995 called, they want this video back! (Videogum) 

      As soon as I read that, I was thinking the same thing, but I think Ace of Base wants their song back!  Then I saw the video and realized there are a ton of references to early Madonna and even some stuff (like the stomping and coloring in that scene) that reminds me of Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation.  I don't think the video is up to par with Telephone (that video was so strange, I couldn't help but watch it more than once), but the rubber nun's habit and machine gun bra definitely stand out.  And I can see how the song is catchy, but I wonder if anyone else noticed that it sounds like something from the early 90s and isn't really that fresh or unique. 

      Sunday, June 6, 2010

      Savor the Sounds 2.0: Starry Kitchen @ DTLA

      I finally went to Starry Kitchen the first night they began their dinner service and was surprised to see so few people there, especially after hearing about their unbelievably long lines (Nguyen Tran, the PR portion of the husband and wife team, mentioned lines that would stretch out the door during the lunch rush).  They expect it to get busier once the California Plaza free concerts begin.

      Here's what I had:
      1. Protein - Spicy Korean Pork Belly I thought it was a little on the dry side, but all the spicy flavorings were good.  I also got to try some of the Nebraska Angus Japanese Meatball Curry.  I kind of wish I had ordered that instead because the meat was so soft and juicy and the curry was delicious. 
      2. Vessel - SK Lunchplate I had this with pineapple fried rice, which was awesome, but maybe that's because I'm partial to pineapple.  I loved the SK Asian Sesame Slaw.  Sesame just makes everything taste better... that's why I used to use it to cook instead of corn oil (me != good cook for those out there who have ever programmed :P )    
      3. Side - Korean Glass Noodle / Japchae was some of the best I've ever had.  Perfect noodle consistency.  Not too mushy, not too hard.  
      The energetic Nguyen was walking around the restaurant, talking to people and sharing funny stories.  He mentioned that he was becoming famous for yelling at people and slamming the chalkboard if they didn't know how to order.  So famous, in fact, that customers were requesting the act for their newbie friends' first experiences.  To think, I was almost a victim when he was at the register, asking me if I knew how to order.

      Turns out Nguyen and his wife, Thi, are also big fans of Glee.  They were disappointed they couldn't make it to the LA concert, but he was pretty excited to talk about it and asked if the cast performed Run Joey Run.  They did not, but I couldn't help but laugh because Nguyen is the only other person I know, besides Wing, who actually likes that song.  He mentioned how awful the original song was.  I just listened to it and it's pretty bad.  It sounds like a 12-year-old boy is singing in the duet.  We talked about how a lot of the time Glee's covers sound better than the original songs.  So true.  We both agreed that the Lady Gaga covers were amazing.  I still think that piano duet of Pokerface on Glee is way better than the one Lady Gaga did herself.

      I will definitely be returning, especially since there's a limited edition dish every week, which I think is clever because it keeps people coming back for more.

      More Reviews:
      Food GPS
      Eating LA
      Midtown Lunch

      Friday, May 28, 2010

      Glee in Concert, LXD @ The Gibson Amphitheatre

      is the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, a side project of Harry Shum Jr., who plays Mike "The other Asian" Chang on Glee.  We were running a bit late, so we only made it in time to catch Shum's (known for his freestyle and fusion type of dancing and also as a choreographer) solo performance and a group dance.  I was a bit confused because it seemed like they were some sort of dance crew, but they weren't doing anything like what I had seen on America's Best Dance Crew.  After watching their TEDTalk, I realized LXD was something completely different.

      They're like a group of performers who mix ballet and street dancing.  The video showed an elegance to an unreal, gymnastic style of movement.  I'm disappointed I missed out, but I would definitely like see them perform again. 

      Glee in Concert
      I was SO tired from driving around all day and sitting in traffic, but as soon as the cast came on stage, a huge smile instantly appeared on my face and we were treated to something akin to sectionals...that lasted 90 minutes.  I was glad Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester made some sort of appearance, even if it was only in the form of videos interspersed in the concert, because it really added to the believability of the characters on stage. 

      It was great hearing all the songs from the show, although, I could have done without Push It, but it was still funny.  Seeing and hearing Don't Rain on My Parade live in a theater setting was fantastic.  Sweet Caroline was a fun singalong song and I liked how they got the audience to karaoke to it, but I found Puck's voice to be noticeably weak on The Lady is a Tramp.   I loved hearing Defying Gravity (Kurt was fantastic, but Jennio says she heard Rachel mess up.  It wasn't too noticeable to me), could barely contain myself when I saw a car come out for Bust Your Windows, was in awe of the costumes and performance for Bad Romance (my absolute favorite song of the night.  At the time I hadn't even seen the episode yet, so the song came as a surprise.  And I loved how into it Kurt was!  Santana's voice sounded amazing!), and definitely shouted out loud for It's My Live / Confessions, Pt. II (who DOESN'T love Bon Jovi?!).

      Photo by Adam Rose/FOX
      When Vocal Adrenaline came out, I didn't quite know how to feel about them.  They were good, but they're New Directions' competitors!  Wing and Matt agreed that Jump was a lot of fun to watch.  All the encore songs were amazing and I was astonished by Jesse's sudden appearance for a duet with Rachel.  I must say, Brittany is an impressive dancer.  She was in practically every number.  And even though Artie plays handicapped on the show, I marveled at his proficiency with the wheelchair. 

      1. "Don't Stop Believin'"
      2. "My Life Would Suck Without You"
      3. "Push It"
      4. "Don't Rain on My Parade"
      5. "Beautiful"
      6. "Sweet Caroline"
      7. "The Boy Is Mine"
      8. "The Lady Is a Tramp"
      9. "Defying Gravity"
      10. "Bust Your Windows"
      11. "Bad Romance"
      12. "Dancing with Myself"
      13. "It's My Life" / "Confessions, Pt. II"
      14. "Halo" / "Walking on Sunshine"
      15. "Rehab"
      16. "Mercy"
      17. "Jump"
      18. "Faithfully"
      19. "Any Way You Want It" / "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'"
      20. "Like a Prayer"
      1. "Hello" on certain dates with Jonathan Groff
      2. "True Colors"
      3. "Somebody to Love"

      Zap2it review

      Wednesday, May 26, 2010

      (500) Days of Summer Tour @ Downtown LA

      I've always been fascinated with the old pre-war buildings in downtown, so for Jennio's birthday we decided to do a self-guided tour of sites from (500) Days of Summer (what other recent movie has celebrated the architecture of this area?).  So, here's the route we took along with some details (and pictures from moi) from the tour guide provided by Los Angeles Conservancy:

      San Fernando Building
      Green Chair
      Nook in Old Bank DVD (video & record store in film)
      I loved the DVD store.  It was really kitchy and had all these plants in old tins and a cute little dog running around.  I would definitely rent from here if I lived nearby. 
      Location:  400 South Main Street (at Fourth Street)
      • Designed in the Renaissance Revival style 
      • Achieved local attention in 1910, when a series of police raids occurred on the sixth floor due to illegal gambling in the rooms
      • Redeveloped by Gilmore Associates; reopened in 2000 as seventy loft-style apartments - one of the early projects that sparked downtown’s current renaissance
      Old Bank DVD located on 1st floor of San Fernando Building

      Barclay Hotel
      It's a shame they don't seem to have enough money for the upkeep of the exterior and interior because you can tell how beautiful it once was. 
      Location: 103 W. Fourth Street
        Barclay Hotel exterior
      • In the film, the lobby serves as the hangout for Tom and his buddies
      • Designed in the Beaux-Arts style with Romanesque features (which are less detailed and ornate than the more formal Beaux-Arts style)
      • Look up to the top of the building to see "The Van Nuys Hotel" (commercial venture by Isaac Newton Van Nuys, one of L.A.'s wealthiest businessmen and landowners)
      • Opened in 1897 as the Van Nuys Hotel, one of the finest in the city with the latest amentities (first hotel to provide phone and electric service in every room)
      • Fourth Street lobby has many original elements, including ceiling decorations, columns, arched doorways, stained-glass windows with old-fashioned scenes
      • Oldest continuously operating hotel in Los Angeles, now a low-income residential hotel

      Continental Building
      Continental BuildingAs much as I love fire escapes, I was a little scared of stepping out on the 12th floor fire escape just thinking about how old it might be.  The 2nd floor Continental Library was very cute.
      Location:  408 S. Spring Street
      • In the film, this is one of Tom's favorite buildings, as viewed from Tom's bench; identified by him as "L.A.'s first skyscraper."
      • One of the first examples of the Beaux-Arts business block
      • At 175 feet, considered the city's first skyscraper
      • First floor has been altered, but the second story retains its stone block design
      • Notice the row of lion heads on the projecting cornice made of pressed galvanized tin
      • Served as office space and later housed many banks
      • Now owned by Gilmore Associates, which converted it into 56 loft-style apartments, which opened in 2001

      Bradbury Building
      Hydraulic elevators originally powered by steam-derived boilers in basement
      One of my favorite buildings in DTLA.  I always thought it odd that the exterior was so plain, but the interior was so ornate. I've always felt there was a steampunk feel to the place.
      Location:  304 S. Broadway
      • In the film, this is the site for an important meeting for Tom
      • Built in the Victorian Romanesque style
      • Simple sandstone and brown brick exterior gives way to 5-story interior court willed with light from the glass roof, cast-iron railings, and open cage elevators
      • Oldest commercial building in the center city
      • Has long been a popular filming location, probably best known for the 1982 sci-fi epic Blade Runner

      Million Dollar Theatre
      IMG_1661It's sad that the halls of the apartments look like modern day offices and don't resemble anything like the elaborate exterior.  I was disappointed the theater lobby was closed, so I didn't get a chance to see any of the original detailing (at least I HOPE there is still some vintage decor). 
      Location:  307 S. Broadway
      Longhorn skull over apartment entrance
      • Sid Grauman's first L.A. theatre
      • One of the earliest movie palaces in the U.S. and, with 2300 seats (originally), one of the largest
      • Designed in the ornate Churrigueresque style
      • Lavish exterior terra-cotta ornamentation by Mora includes bison heads, longhorn skulls, and allegorical figures representing the arts
      • The name Million Dollar comes from the combined original costs of the land and building
      • Originally had a 2-story exterior foyer/lobby; has been altered over the years, though some details such as murals remain underneath
      • Upper stories originally housed office space; now apartments

      Grand Central Market
      This was the perfect precursor to the end of the tour.  We grabbed a banana split from Jose's Ice Cream Corner.
      Location:  315 S. Broadway
      • This was the site of a deleted scene from the film in which Tom and Summer are shopping for fruit
      • The city's first fireproofed and steel-reinforced structure
      • Market opened in 1917
      • Today has over 50 vending stalls, each privately owned and operated
      • Project removed a tile facade added in the 1960s to reveal the 2nd-story windows and many of the original Beaux-Arts details

      Angels Knoll
      I've driven past this park so many times and have always wanted to visit and check out the view.  It's surprisingly nice.  Too bad there are a few ugly parking structures and unattractive buildings. Still, it's a very peaceful spot.  I've always had the same sentiment as Tom about the streets being kind of unappealing, but surrounded by towering beautiful old architecture.
      Location:  Hill Street and Fourth Street, go all the way up the 100+ steps
      • In the film, this is Tom's favorite L.A. spot, offering a great view of (mostly) pre-war buildings.  As Tom shows Summer the architecture, he says words along the lines of, "There's so much beauty here.  Sure the street level isn't much to look at, but if you look up, there's some exciting stuff going on.  If it were up to me, I'd get people to notice!"

      We did a driveby of the rest of these places: 

      Fenton Building (aka Roseland dance hall)
      Location:  833-835 S. Spring Street, between Eighth and Ninth Streets
      Fact:  In the film, this is where Tom works as a copywriter for a greeting card company

      Fine Arts Building
      I only got a quick glance at it, but it looks like it would be amazing.  What other building in DTLA has reclining figures on the exterior?!  I must return because I think the lobby will be just as impressive as the exterior.  
      Location:  811 W. Seventh Street
      Fact:  This is one of Tom's favorite buildings; he singles out architects Walker and Eisen

      Eastern Columbia Building
      Definitely one of my favorite buildings in city.  It looks absolutely gorgeous and my dream is to one day live there.  I'm still trying to find the time to visit and explore the building
      Location:  849 S. Broadway, across from The Orpheum Theatre
      Fact:  Another one of Tom's favorites

      Map of some key sites from the movie

      View Los Angeles in (500) days of Summer in a larger map