Saturday, December 26, 2009

Angel's Piano Bar: an undiscovered gem in Santa Monica East

Last night I was invited to my first ever tweetup (meeting of people completely organized via twitter) by my buddy Andy. Being the grinch I am, I was eager to leave my mom's house in the suburbs and rejoin civilization. The #xmasmeetup was organzied by Mike of Kogi PR and set to take place at Angel's Piano Bar in Santa Monica on the corner of Wilshire and 25th. I had read a few press bits about this place, but it seemed to be operating mostly under the radar so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. But once inside, I was so pleasantly surprised!

It was pretty empty when we arrived, as would be expected on Christmas night around 10pm. But the atmosphere felt warm and inviting without that awkward feeling you sometimes get when stepping into a not-too-crowded bar. There is the main lounge area off to the right that has several small tables illuminated by candles and a leather bench along the wall. The baby grand piano and a retro style mic is within eyeshot of about 80% of the bar. Further back, there is a larger area that can probably fit around 20 people in comfortable elegance. Much of the decor was trimmed in white leather or floral gold leaf creating a vibe that reminded me of part Moulin Rouge, part rich uncle, and part boudoir. Or maybe even a smaller westside version of Edison Lounge in Downtown LA.

After a nice conversation with their super cool and friendly bartender guy (forgot to get his name), I decided to try their absinthe. It's presented using a fancy looking carafe and a special slotted spoon to hold the sugar. I learned several things about absinthe by chatting with the bartender:
  1. Angel's only carries Lucid absinthe which is 125 proof (good times, indeed)
  2. Lucid has a full serving/dose(?) of wormwood which people often consider the measure of "real" absinthe
  3. Absinthe's original hallucinogenic property is attributed to their aging in lead barrels (no illegal) which essentially poisoned you into seeing dancing mushrooms.
It's a bit pricey yes ($15), but WHEW it packed a punch! After one drink, Andy and I were both feeling pretty toasty. We were also able to convince a few others to try this magical potion :)

Their other cocktails range from $11-15 and the Angel's Lemon Verbena I tried was a nice balance of crisp, sweet, and tart with the rosemary garnish. Apparently they have food too until 11pm.

I'd definitely recommend this place as an intimate date spot or as a fun pub crawl away from the noisy overgrown frat boys at V Lounge and the Gas Lite down the street. This place is within walking distance of The Wilshire and South which would make a nice pub crawl trifecta with Angel's.

Other notes:
  • Plenty of parking in front thanks to meters which end at 6pm
  • No beers on tap (boo) but they do have bottles
  • Happy hour is 6-8p and all night long on Tuesdays!!

Angel's Piano Bar and Supper Club
2460 Wilshire Boulevard
(cross street: 25th)
Santa Monica, CA 90403
info@angelssantamonica.com
(310) 828-2115

Monday, December 21, 2009

Product Review: Newcastle DraughtKeg - The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems

I'm not afraid to admit that I *heart* Newcastle Brown Ale. Ever since I was a wee college student doing my summer abroad in London, I fell in love with its maltiness and earthy aroma. Stateside, it's been my go-to and favorite commercial (non-micro) brew and if I find it on tap, odds are very good that I will order it. So imagine my pleasant (ok, not pleasant, more like ecstatic) surprise when I was offered to try out their latest product, the Newcastle DraughtKeg.

Here are some specs according to the folks at Newcastle:
  • Holds 10 pints of beer
  • Recyclable steel packaging (yay, earth!)
  • Patented CO2 system keeps beer fresh up to 30 days after opening
I wanted to make sure to give this cute little minikeg a proper debut, so I saved it for our snowboard waxing party at my friend Dave's apt where we inaugurated the LA snow season. When you bust out a minikeg, you are sure to get some attention, especially from the boys, and this one was no exception. People kept touching it and commenting on how cool looking it was. As Dave melted wax over our snowboards, we eagerly opened the keg which reminded a lot of people of the Heineken minikeg that's been on the market for a while. However, as we attempted to tap the keg, we had some hardware difficulties attaching the spigot to tap the keg and some of the beer was seeping out of its top as it was being released from its intended spout.

And so we resorted to tapping off what beer we could, and whatever collected at the top we poured off into another glass. Unfortunately, the simple instructions didn't provide much guidance into how to manage this type of situation. Maybe it was because we were all minikeg tapping virgins, but despite following the instructions, it took a bit of creative finagling to finally get the minikeg to pour properly.

The taste was still the Newcastle I knew and loved. We were expecting restaurant quality draft beer, but felt the flavor was more similar to the cans and bottles you buy at your local store. Nonetheless, this product definitely scores points in coolness, portability (weighs around 15lbs I think - easy enough for my skinny arms to carry) and really, can there ever be too much beer in your life??

Newcastle DraughtKeg
Available for $22.99 at BevMo, Albertsons, and select retailers

Bonus points to peeps who can guess from where I derived this blogpost title :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Luminosity: Sculpture Exhibit in Downtown LA


When I was in downtown LA last weekend, I saw an amazing art exhibit that I felt I MUST write about. Thanks to the friendliness of e*starLA, I had the opportunity to have a brief chat with the artist, Sean Sobczak. He reminded me of a young David Carridine with his ponytailed hair and long Chinese-style robe. Here's a summary of our heavily paraphrased conversation:

fLAh: From where do you draw your inspiration?
SS: I'm sure you noticed the ocean theme and sea creatures. I'm fascinated by their ethereal nature and fluidity. I try to capture that in my work.

fLAh: What are your pieces made from?
SS: They're a combination of metal wire, stretchy fabric, and LED lights. Stretchy fabric is important because if it wasn't stretchy, then they would bunch up around the bends and not be translucent.

fLAh: How long does it take to make a piece?
SS: The larger pieces take about 4 months, the smaller ones take about 1 month. This is all I do in my spare time, I don't go out or drink or anything. I come back from work and put on my mask and start welding.

fLAh: What's your day job?
SS: I work in the entertainment industry. Gotta pay those bills somehow!

My photos don't do these pieces justice. You should definitely check out this exhibit. You'll feel like you're transported to a different dimension.

Luminosity
A solo sculputre exhibit by Sean Sobczak
Continental Gallery
408 South Spring St
Los Angeles CA 90013
Downtown LA

Until Dec 29th
Closing reception 12/29/09

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Whiskey Soaked Weekend - DewarsDiscovery, Edison Repeal Day Celebration

My Whiskey Weekend - that would make a good name for a band.

Friday - Dewars Discovery Whiskey Tasting Event

My friends and I arrived TOTALLY late to the Dewars Discovery event at Jim Henson Studios scheduled to start at 7pm. We ended up getting there close to 7:40, but the dudes at front were cool enough to let us attend the second seating at 9.

Upon entry, we were each given a token good for one drink at the bar - guess they didn't want patrons to be sloshed before the presentation. But we made sure to tip the bartender good so he hooked us up with a very generous pour of our one drink - thanks dude!

It was also my first visit to Jim Henson Studios - you know, that building on La Brea with Kermit the Frog perched on top. KERMIT!! The event space was a simple set decked out in Dewars propaganda. The passed hors d'oeuvres were awesome tho - mini cheeseburger sliders, lamb sliders, onion tartlets, prosciutto wrapped parmesan, and fresh strawberries. Kudos to Dewars on that.

After 30 minutes or so of this cocktail reception, we were corralled into the presentation room where tables were set up with several vials of various scents of whiskey - honey, fruity, floral, vanilla, and smoke. We could play chemist and mix up our own versions of the magic brew. The Dewars Ambassador gave a brief presentation on the history of the company and what makes Dewars unique - apparently its served by the Queen of Scotland to guests or something like that. He also showed us what peat looks like and lit it so that we could smell the smokiness that comprises that unique flavor of whiskey.

At the end of the event, we were given a Dewars embossed flask as a takeaway gift. I wasn't expecting much from this event that I didn't feel was very well publicized, but I was pleasantly surprised by the friendly staff, educational value and great spread of food and booze.


Saturday - Edison Repeal Day Celebration

Blame my troubled childhood for my disdain of the holidays, but I was totally feeling festive and happy at this event.

1. Ice skating at Pershing Square. 6:00-7:30pm
Surrounded by palm trees and Christmas lights, I was joined by Caroline on Crack and e*starLA as we skated around a tiny bumpy ice rink while Mexican children were standing around the rink spectating. There was a table serving yummy winter treats: roasted chestnuts, mini cupcakes (the choco one was awesome), ribbon candy, fresh mulled hot apple cider, and REAL hot chocolate. Santa and Mrs Claus also paid a visit so revelers had a chance to relive their childhood and take pictures with Santa! I'm sure this gig for Santa was way better than having screaming little brats pissing all over him. We were also each given a lovely black Edison scarf.

As we were leaving, there was a HUGE swarm of people waiting to enter the rink. I was so glad that Edison had reserved the rink for our exclusive use. If you're considering skating here, I'd probably suggest going during off hours like weekdays or weekend daytime.

2. Short walk back to Edison Lounge for some Christmas bourbon 8:00-9:00pm
I didn't even know Edison had this extra area in the rear (to the far right as you walk in) despite the numerous times I visited. Inside, they had prepared their Singapore Chicken Wings which were super yum and hearty chili with a cornbread stick. There was also a lovely singer and her accompanying guitarist for our exclusive listening pleasure. For drinks, there was eggnog with spiced rum, and the open bar was serving up hot toddys (not enough honey IMHO), Edison Lager which is a rather light beer, and their Christmas blend of Woodford Reserve bourbon neat or in cocktails. The Christmas bourbon was surprisingly potent. Very sweet and honey scented on the nose, but is very smoky and peaty on the palette. Had to let out a couple of coughs after that one!

They then brought out some chocolate mint cookies and chewy ginger cookies for dessert. After this indoor portion of the event was over, we had major food and booze coma. But it was a perfectly heartwarming LA winter's night :)

Although I was able to attend this event without paying thanks to my well-connected blogginghead friend Caroline on Crack, at $25 I thought this event was still a total bargain and would highly recommend anyone considering Edison hosted events in the future.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Finally, a hipster weekend!

I think I'm finally returning to my usual self - seeking out art, music, and free booze :)

Friday: In Bed Together at Royal/T for carolineoncrack;
Du Metier at Daydream Republic

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your friends were all struggling actors and artists and you decided to host a get-together at your house with a REALLY big living room?

The lovely Vivien of Daydream Republic invited me to check out her "REALLY big living room" for the Du Metier event last Friday. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but the $15 entry fee gets you live entertainment, an open bar, and snackies. Vivien was generous enough to comp me a couple of tickets to check it out.

It definitely had an "underground" feel to it as it was way far east on Jefferson Blvd, just before you hit USC-land. Or maybe it just felt that way to me cuz I'm a westsider. A series of actors were performing monologues/spoken word pieces on living as a creative person in LA as a circle of spectators watched. I could see this as a great space for filming or band rehearsing or even a party space for you and 100 of your bffs. They also host several of their own events that sound pretty cool.

Neuro Drinks sponsored the drinks and the gals working that section were quite friendly and the NeuroBliss I tried tasted like lychee and mixed great with vodka and apparently "regulates" appetite.

Saturday: Koream Journal Afterparty for "Unforgettable"
This event was totally not my scene - bunch of "fabulous Asian Americans" strutting around in their finest Italian garb gloating at how famous and awesome they think they are. But I did appreciate the Jinro and Hite open bar and I got to try something new called Black Beer Stout which is pretty cool since Korean beers like Hite and Cass usually taste like piss-water (piss-water holding many fond memories for me FYI). Black Beer Stout was definitely not as full bodied as a Guiness, but I found it similar to the more Amber and brown ales which I prefer anyways.

But the highlight of the night for me was most DEFINITELY getting photographed with the smoking hot Daniel Henney - eeeeeeee! For those not in the know, he is a half Korean half white actor who hit it big in Korea acting in some soap operas and has successfully (so far) transitioned himself to the American stage. I spent 3 hours on Sunday watching Three Rivers on cbs.com where he is a co-star. Thanks to my buddy clammy for approaching Sr Henney since I was way too chicken - and star struck! - to ask myself.

Monday: Green Day not-so-secret show at Nokia Plaza
We stood for 5 hours in the longest line I have EVER attempted, but it was SOOOO worth it. Green Day has a raucous energy and pounding enthusiasm that 15+years in existence has not squleched. Billie Joe is as charismatic as ever with his unique voice and I still saw the younger audience members excitedly moshing in the center. It was just funny because this was a taping of the Carson Daly Show's New Years Eve special so we all wore NYE hats and noisemakers and even did a countdown! Weird.....

I LOVE LA! ;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hipster's Escape from Douchebag Central aka Hollywood Blvd

I was invited to a birthday dinner at Beso in Hollywood last week. But no way was I gonna drop $100 at a restaurant that was co-owned by a celebrity (Eva Longoria in this case) unless the executive chef was Thomas Keller of French Laundry and the much anticipated Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills (which it obviously wasn't). So I just said that I would meet up for drinks after their dinner. I arrived a bit early and as I was standing around Beso's front bar surrounded by douchebags and a cocktail list averaging $15, I knew I needed to escape until I can be fashionably late to my party. The Cahuenga corridor (Cahuenga Blvd between Hollywood and Selma) has several options for those who wanna get away from the touristy douchey crowd so typical of Hollywood. After passing many clubby places along this strip that I couldn't bring myself to walk into alone (Velvet Margarita, Beauty Bar, etc) I found Capitol City. I remembered reading about Capitol City being an "upscale sports lounge" in the heart of Hollywood. To me, it was a relaxed reprieve from the adrenaline pumped playground surrounding most of Hollywood on a Friday night.

It felt kinda dead considering it was a Friday night at 10:30pm aside from a few small groups of diners and a couple canoodling in the corner, but it had exactly what I needed: an open and inviting atmosphere, a readily accessible bar, lots of TV screens for distraction, and a reasonably priced menu. I ended up ordering a Purple Haze draft ($7) and a Spicy Tuna with Crispy Rice ($8). The beer was so cold it almost felt like there were ice chips in it...mmmm..... and the tuna/rice combination was also quite tasty and I liked the little disc of serrano chile they donned on top. They had nearly 20 beers on tap in addition to their full bar and a variety of menu options including fancy burgers and fancy pizzas.

The servers and staff were all very friendly as well. Oh and I REALLY liked their retractable purse hooks that are under the bar! At first I couldnt locate them so my initial thought was "Figures, of course a sports bar geared towards men wouldn't be equipped with purse hooks" but boy was I wrong! It's just that they're the retractable folding kind so no one can bump their knees into it ;) So ladies, you too can feel safe hanging out here!

This place is the perfect getaway if you're looking for a more chill way to hang out in Hollywood with its reasonable prices, yummy food, great draft beer selection, and huge glass panels facing Cahuenga Blvd. My friend Carleen who met up with me here before we returned to Beso to join our party also said that she would like to come back here again.

I'll see you again, Capitol City!

Capitol City Hollywood
1615 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-465-1750
http://www.capcitysports.com/main.html

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If it's good enough for fauxlahipster's birthday party, it's good enough for you

I get asked all the time for bar and restaurant recommendations. But when it came time to figure out my own birthday party, I really wanted a home run in terms of location, ambiance, food, drinks and service for my 25+ guests with ages ranging from mid 20s to late 30s.

After reading countless Yelp reviews and talking to friends, many of whom are well informed bloggers like The Delicious Life and Caroline on Crack, and even fishing on twitter, I had narrowed it down to a few options. The rooftop lounge at Bond St, Trader Vics in Beverly Hills, and Medusa Lounge in Silver Lake.

Here's what I was looking for:
  • Somewhat nice and upscale lounge atmosphere without being overly douchey
  • Drinks that averaged under $12
  • No velvet rope nonsense all night long
  • Location near Koreatown since many of my lame friends hate to leave a 5 mile radius of it
  • Easy parking - via inexpensive valet/lot or ample on street
  • Nice to have's: outdoor area, rooftop views
My birthday buddy Raymond (his bday is a few days before mine so we decided to enter a joint bday venture) and I did a few drive by's of potential options near downtown LA and when we stopped to check out Medusa, we were like Goldilocks when she found her bed - it was just right. They fulfilled every one of my key criteria in terms of location, ambience, and cost. They have a nify page on their website where you fill in a few blanks and the manager Yosh will email you the next day with reservation details. Quick and efficient, especially for people who are afraid to talk on the phone like me - let's not get into the part when I was a kid and my mom would have to feed me a script so I could tell the gas station attendant how much money to apply to our pump.

The ambiance: Medusa is in the former Lowenbrau Keller space which I've never been to. But I was told it was a former German pub/brewery type place. Many "old" details remain at Medusa including the exposed brick walls and vaulted ceilings. It definitely had that goth-like design which I thought was a perfect prelude to Halloween coming up. The lounge portion is an L-shaped space with the walls lined in tufted sofas and a large bar in the middle. So no matter where you're sitting, you have visual access to the bar. The back room is a bit darker and louder allowing you to get your groove on after downing the many shots that bday revelers usually do.

Food/Drink: Birthday buddy, Caroline on Crack, her boyfriend Jay, and I were the first to arrive and none of us had eaten dinner, so we decided to order up some grub. Think of the food as fancified pub grub. I had fried ravioli (2 huge raviolis) served on a bed of rich marinara and topped with a light truffle cream. CoC had what appeared to be an asian spiced sauteed shrimp with bruschetta. Birthday buddy ordered a calamari salad - which he didn't even offer to share, that bastard. Can't remember what Jay ordered. It wasn't exactly Michelin star haute cuisine, but it sure beat bucket-o-wings and greasy fries!

If you opt for bottle service, they offer several specials including a free appetizer platter with the first bottle and 20%(?) off of the second bottle. We ended up ordering one bottle which came with every type of mixer imaginable including Red Bull.

As we entered, the door guy Rob gave each of my guests a little card that entitled us to a flavored shot served in a test tube for $1. It tasted pretty nasty, but everyone seemed to dig the $1 shot served in a test tube concept.

The service: I really think Medusa's service was what really set them apart in excellence. Many bars and lounges in LA can boast a luxe or interesting interior and reasonably priced cocktails. But few can couple these qualities with a friendliness and hospitality that really made me and all my guests feel so welcome. It started off with Yosh accommodating my one bazillion requests and even offering to let us bring our own mixed CD to play in the lounge - which I didn't do out of sheer laziness, much to my dismay. The door guy Rob is mad cool and a total sweetheart. He's a big and hulky in appearance, but he does his job so well, with a finesse that I wish he could teach to other door guys. Our cocktail waitress Irina (sp?) was so friendly and even though a lot of my friends were ordering drinks from the bar instead of from her, thereby reducing her tip, she was still cool about it saying "the girls at the bar need the tips too." Aw, what a team player!

The night was wearing on and it was time to leave. As our car began to pull out of the valet lot (which is only $5 by the way), Yosh stopped us to give each of the birthday babies a gift - a bottle of champagne! I've never heard of a bar gifting regular old joe's like us, but I thought that was the nicest most thoughtful thing any bar staff or restaurateur has done for me. And I have been to A LOT of bars and restaurants.

So I wanted to write this post to give Medusa the just credit it deserves. If you're looking for a elegant yet laid back space to hold your event, birthday party, or filming your teen angst vampire movie, you definitely won't be disappointed here.

Medusa Lounge
http://medusaloungela.com/
8pm-2am Wed-Sat
3211 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
213-382-5723
Neighborhood: Silver Lake

Thanks to Caroline on Crack for the food and drink pictures

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tip for using the google gadget

If you're interested in an event I've posted and tried to click on it, you may notice a google calendar entry that looks all garbled and whack. Best thing to do would be to right-click on the hyperlink and either open it in a new window or new tab so you can see all the details properly.

I have an estimated re-entry into proper society in early September, so I hope to resume writing soon.

Til then! ;)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New google calendar gadget added

I'm way too busy to write these days :( But that doesn't mean I don't stay on top of goings on around town :D

I created a google calendar which is viewable to the public and I also added a widget to my right side bar so you can see all sorts of events, parties, openings that I think are cool. Maybe I may someday have time to actually attend one of these things *sigh*

Enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm baaaack, for now with more cool sounding events and stuff for this and next weekends

Wow, there is A LOT of stuff going on since I've been out of the loop for so long AND it's almost officially summer.... yay!

West Hollywood Late Night Happy Hour Wed/Thurs

Tis a travesty for happy hours to end at 6pm. So I'm always a fan of late night happy hours. This special is not on their website, so I would call ahead to confirm. But Lolas in weho supposedly has a Wed/Thur late night happy hour from 10:30pm - 12:30am with $5.50 food, $3 beers, and $5 Finlandia martinis.

Lola's
945 N. Fairfax, West Hollywood
323.654.5652


Corkbar Late Night Happy Hour Mon-Thurs
This is a new wine bar in downtown LA that I haven't tried yet, but have heard good things about it. They too have a late happy hour that starts at 10pm! woo! Kitchen closes at 11pm, so I'd get there right at 10 to take advantage of the food specials. $4 pints, half off apps, and some other specials apparently...

Mon-Thurs, 10pm-2am (The website is incorrect. I called them and confirmed these details)
Corkbar
403 W12th St Los Angeles (Downtown LA)
213.746.0050


Surfas Saturdays
My favorite Culver City gastro-supplier Surfas has lots of neat sounding foodie events going on most weekends. And chances are you'll get to sample something delicious if you show up on a Saturday around noon or 1ish. This Saturday, it's $1 pulled beef sliders and they also have a farmers market sounding thing every Saturday. Enjoying yummy sliders at Surfas' outdoor patio, then shopping at the farm stand sounds like a perfect Saturday afternoon to me.

$1 pulled beef sliders
Sat Jun 20th 12pm-2pm (yummy and cheap lunch!)

BeeGreen Farm Stand
Every Saturday 12pm-4pm

Surfas
8777 Washington Blvd, Culver City
310.559.4770


New Rooftop Lounge in Venice Beach
This new beachside rooftop lounge in Venice from today's Thrillist sounds rad. I can't wait to check it out! Opening June 25th, HIGH at the new Hotel Erwin. Name's a bit reminiscent of Venice's hobo drug culture. I wonder if that's what they were going for....

HIGH at Hotel Erwin

1697 Pacific Avenue, Los Angeles (Venice Beach)
310.452.1111
Opening June 25th


Stuff coming up later on: Saturdays off the 405 at The Getty (ugh, does this mean it's gonna be all crowded with B&T?), Thursday night concert series at the Hammer Museum in July, POKETO popup shop at Royal/T (and the opening event next Saturday)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some recent hap'nens

apt3 yard sale
lots of affordable vintage for men AND women, djs, hotdogs, and "grownup" lemonade, open bar
Saturday, June 20th 1pm-6pm
at apt 3's brick and mortar home
4634 Hollywood Blvd 90027

Free booze party on SATURDAY!
Sponsored by Hornitos (open bar), FREE TACOS(!), art, djs, live performances all in a downtown warehouse loft
RSVP: http://www.viceland.com/rsvphornitos/

Upstairs patio at Rush Street is getting filled with sand - if you're too lazy to drive the extra 5 miles to the ocean
June 19-21
Culver City

$3 Margarita all day every day at El Cid
3256 Cahuenga Blvd (at Bennett), Universal City, 323-851-5111

Drop in to STK
Drop-in tables in the lounge and on the patio for $15 meals like sliders, short ribs or a 6-ounce skirt steak with a salad.
Sun-Fri 6-8pm
West Hollywood

Free flights at The Foundry
Three different 2oz mixed drink pours per person, each day featuring a different potable
Tue: Soco
Wed: Jack
Thurs: Le Tourment Vert absinthe
After the flight, get 1/2 off full glasses of the same cocktails
Tue-Thurs 6-9pm
West Hollywood/Mid-Wilshire

New fancy club alert: Jane's House. It's like a house. Hopefully it's not all exclusionist like a real house.
6541 Hollywood Blvd. (between N. Hudson & Whitley Avenues), Hollywood
Tel: (323) 308-1911

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

fauxlahipster is going to Asia

I'm heading to a wedding in Taiwan this weekend, followed by a week in Seoul filled with what I hope will be midnight shopping sprees, overeating food on sticks served from steaming carts, and reacquainting myself with the motherland.

However, it also means I won't have time to blog. Cuz why would I be sitting around in front of a computer blogging when I can be experiencing a whole new culture!!??

But fear not, I will return in April. Hopefully with some interesting cultural observations and anecdotes to share!

Friday, March 13, 2009

For hipsters in NYC - Triple 5 Soul Warehouse Sale

Even though I am currently the faux LA hipster, I used to be a wannabe hipster in NYC before that. And every hipster faux or genuine should own some T5S in their wardrobe. Their biannual warehouse sales used to be a shopping staple for me, but alas I live in the fashion wasteland of LA now. But if you're in NYC, you should totally check out this sale! And unlike the previous incarnations, it will be held at their stores instead of that Metropolitan Pavilion place on W17th St.

I think their strongest line is their outerware like jackets and coats. Urban industrial with casual detailing. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Briny salty spicey goodness - step by step pictorial guide to kimchi making

As a little girl in korea, I used to help my grandmother make kimchi by being the taste-tester to make sure it was of the appropriate saltiness. I'm still convinced that this contributed to the development of my palate at an early age which makes me the cook I am today - a damn good one! :D

This past Sunday was spent with my mom (who I love very much but who also drives me nuts sometimes) making kimchi, that traditional korean spiced pickled cabbage that many of us know and love. You see, my mom has this friend who apparently makes some of the best kimchi in LA.... so good in fact that her children won't buy regular old supermarket kimchi or even fancy expensive boutique kimchi (yes, that does exist by the way) because their mom's kimchi is that good. My mom was fortunate enough to have a kimchi knowledge transfer session with her, and I wanted to make sure that these super-awesome kimchi-making skills were passed on to me.

Now on to the adventure!


Here's my mom preparing the brine in order to salt the cabbage. She uses coarse sea salt and adds enough salt to create a saturated solution (think high school chemistry) - in other words, as much salt as possible that will melt in the water. Using warm water for this task seems to help.


When you split the cabbage in half, start at the white heads and cut about 2/3 - 3/4 of the way through and finish the splitting process by hand (for the green/yellow parts). This minmizes crumbling of the more delicate lower leaves. Once you get the soak going for these cabbage halves, rub some more of the coarse salt into the white part of the heads since these stiffer parts are more resistant to the salt penetration. Set aside for a couple of hours like this.


Next, it's time to start the sauce. Add 2 parts cold water to one part sweet rice flour (which you can purchase at most asian grocery stores) and dissolve (kinda like working with cornstarch). Then bring this mixture to a rolling boil while constantly stirring in order to prevent the paste from sticking to the bottom and/or burning. The mixture will be a bit lumpy at first, but as you keep cooking it, the lumps will dissolve. This process kind of reminded me of tempering chocolate - steady does it. You should make a lot of this. If you have leftover sauce, you can make lots of other wonderful things with it, but if you don't have enough to make your kimchi, you're kind of screwed. Once the paste is boiling, transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.


Now it's time to prep your veggie fillings for the kimchi. You can use any combination of aromatic leafy greens that you like. We make ours traditional style with scallions, ghat (peppery leafy thing, don't know what it's called in english, sorry), radish greens, chives. Give all these guys a rough chop.


Secret Ingredient #1 - raw squid
You're probably thinking WTF? But adding raw seafood is really essential to the eathy flavor of kimchi and anything raw you throw in will be cooked through the fermentation process... not too different from an over-ripe ceviche. Trraditional kimchi often uses raw oysters which I sort of despise, so I'm glad that this version uses squid which I find much more palatable. And once the kimchi is ready to eat, these squid pieces become little nuggets of flavor heaven! Buy the freshest and best squid you can find and give it a fine chop, a little finer than what's pictured here.



Next add red pepper powder to the sweet rice paste that you've prepared and cooled. It doesn't have to be cold or even room temperature, but you want to make sure the paste isn't hot, because if it's too warm, then it will take away the spicy kick that you absolutely want from the red pepper powder. Don't scrimp with this ingredient and make sure to buy good quality red pepper powder, preferably made especially for kimchi. Add A LOT of it. You want this sauce to be a deep dark red and not a pastey orange like you see here.

Secret Ingredients #2 and #3
I forgot to take a picture of the prep portion of this step, but the white swirly things are actually a mixture of grated apples and grated onions that I prepped in the food processor. The grating of these two ingredients helps them fully incorporate into the sauce will add a sweetness and aroma that will give kimchi that multi-dimensional delicious bite! There's also a generous amount of chopped garlic and little grated ginger as well in here.



This is how your sauce should look when you've added all the "dry" ingredients - really red and really thick. The consistency is almost akin to a loose peanut butter or a dry tapenade. It's starting to smell and taste pretty good now, but we aren't done yet, oh no...



Add a heap of julienned daikon radish to this paste. This is best prepared on a japanese mandolin or one of those craptastic devices they sell on latenight infomercials - unless you've got some mad knife skills in which case I supposed you can do this by hand.



By this point, you probably want to mix this up by hand since your little wooden spoon ain't gonna cut it any more. Make sure you wear disposable (or not) plastic gloves to protect your skin from the peppers and also so your skin won't stain and your hands won't smell like garlic. Add the remaining aromatic veggies that you prepared earlier and stir it up in this mix. Now is the time to adjust the saltiness. Instead of salt, use fish sauce to adjust the saltiness to give the flavors more body (kind of like how everything tastes better when cooked in animal fat than canola oil - same concept here). They make fish sauce specifically for kimchi, but I think any salty fish sauce would work here. Let these flavors sit and marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours.



The cabbage should be brined for about 4-6 hours, but make sure to rotate the cabbage at the halfway point so most of the pieces get a chance to be submerged in the saltwater solution. When you're executing this rotation is probably a good time to cut the cabbage halves into quarters. Once the brining process is complete, give each cabbage piece a good rinse in cold water - twice - to stop the brining process. You'll need to switch out this water fairly often as it gets salty fast from rinsing. After you're done rinsing, place the cabbage in a basket or colander to drain out as much of the water as possible so you don't dilute the pepper mixture once it's ready to go in.



Once the cabbage is ready, it's time to get stuffin! Grab a few handfulls of the seasoned mix and place in a large bowl. Grab a quarter of the brined cabbage and mop the outside of it generously with the seasoned mix all over, especially the sides or anyplace where white color is peeking out. Then, starting with the outermost leaf, mop the inside of it with a small bit of the seasoned mix and leave a little bit of the seasoned mix in that leaf and move on to the next outer leaf. Work your way towards the center of the cabbage head this way until every leaf has been mopped over and has a bit of the veggies from the seasoned mix in between the leaves. It's important that the veggie bits are only stuffed into the white portion of the leaf and not the green or yellow parts as the white parts are most resistant to being penetrated by flavor which is why we leave these little bits behind for those parts. This is also what creates the attractive layered look in the finished product. This will take a while, so get comfy, pop in some Beach Boys or whatever else you enjoy, preferably with people you enjoy being around.



Almost done! Once the cabbage has been fully violated by the seasoned mix and mopped thoroughly to a crimson hue, place them snuggly in a container of your choice. You want them packed snug, but not too tight. And fill the container about 3/4 of the way as the kimchi will expand and release water as it ferments and you don't want it to explode with kimchi juice when you're finally ready to enjoy these bad boys.



Optionally, you can add a layer of cut up radishes (or leftovers from the julienning process since you didn't want to slice off a finger with the mandolin) to the finished kimchi. It's recommended to cover all this with a layer of plastic wrap to minimize exposure to oxygen or undesirable outside elements.


Depending on how fast you want to eat these, you can ferment them at room temperature, in the fridge, or in my mom's case, her bad ass kimchi refrigerator. Did you know that you can get a refrigerator especially for optimizing kimchi flavor and longevity? My mom paid $1500 for one of these things! eeek! Back in the old days, koreans would put the kimchi in clay jars and bury them in dirt over the winter. I remember eating my grandma's kimchi that still had the frozen crystals on them from being stored outside during the cold korean winters which is generally when this type of kimchi is prepared.

You may have noticed that I didn't really give any exact measures or quantities or times. That's because kimchi making is largely a taste-and-go process that leaves a lot of room for flexibility. Just taste things as you go along, add more or less of things you like and go with your sense of taste and you'll be sure to create something you'll enjoy.

Obviously, this is a lot of work and something you probably don't want to undertake often or alone. But the reward is so mouthwatering and irresistible! Pair it with a piping hot bowl of plain white rice and all this effort will be well worth it :)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just another night in Hollywood! Avalon, Blue Palm Brewhouse, El Gran Burrito

Signing up for a million different mailing lists does have its advantages. Like finding out that the Fischer Spooner show I heard about through flavorpill, whose tickets I thought were a bargain at $20, I could actually acquire for FREE! (by the way, that was a really horrible run-on sentence - I know. It's been a while since I've written anything so I'm a bit rusty today :P ). On one of those rare occasions where I actually got to attend an event I wrote about, I braved the long ass line that formed outside of Avalon at 10:20pm for an event whose doors were at 10p. Apparently there was an open bar until 11pm as well that I was hoping to make, but of course I didn't with all the underaged hipsters jonesing to cut in line and me giving them my dirtiest look possible (which is sadly not too dirty, unlike my gf's favorite martini).

Finally we make it inside at 11:10pm, just after open bar, dangit! Oh well.... there was already a huge throng of people inside dancing to the opening dj Dan Oh. Apparently, it was also his birthday, so the whole crowd on the dancefloor sang him happy bday. That was cute. Finally at 11:30pm Fischer Spooner came on and the energy was really pumping. Their mix of synth electro euro dance trance music was just as I expected. Remember those E fueled rave days of yore? Well, they are alive and well here and it was actually kind of refreshing to see people just dancing and moving their bodies without much concern for how cool they looked or whether they're stepping on your feet. My friend and I agreed that if we were both on E, we'd be REALLY loving this place.

Next we went to the Blue Palm Brewhouse which doubles as the "VIP" area of the Henry Fonda Theater. The place itself wasn't particularly notable except that we had a table next to a shuffleboard table and a window. As luck would have it, a car with 2 asian girls pull up, then the girl in the passenger seat starts to barf - on Hollywood Blvd, in front of a bar!!! Classy.... Everyone at the bar rushes to the window, we can't believe our eyes - and our luck to catch such a vision! :D Check out the pix with her shoving her finger down her throat. Bulimia, anyone? muahahahah!!!

Now it's 2am and we're hungry. We're still in Hollywood - what are our options?
1. Hollywood Hotdog aka Tijuana Dog (my favorite name for this thing) aka bacon wrapped 60min-to-burn-on-treadmill dog
2. Good old koreatown - a bit far
3. Thai town - too lazy
4. Tacos - BINGO!!

We headed off to my favorite Hollywood 24hr taco join El Gran Burrito. Like a dirty boyfriend, I just can't get enough of this place. Ever since my friend Andy brought me here, I've been hooked. And at a buck per taco, you can't beat the price either. But what really sells me here is their amazing condiment cart! Not only does it have 3 different kinds of salsa (mild green, med chipotle, and spicy red), but they also have a gree avocado sauce, all the briny bay leaf picked carrots/onions/jalapenos you want, pico de gallo with huge chunks of juicy tomato, and a non-dairy vinegar-based cabbage slaw that is simple perfect with the greasy taco/burrito you'll be shoving down your throat. Can you believe all this late night goodness on this picture cost just $2?? God, I love LA!!

I'll end this post of a little vid I shot outside Blue Palm as a few male patrons decided to go outside to "help the poor girl out". Did the dog stop to eat the puke? You decide....

video

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grand Opening Party for Barbarella Bar in Echo Park

Despite the fact that my job is SO getting in the way of my social life, I wanted to share this quick tidbit: Barbarella Bar which is a brand new bar named after the namesake movie will have its official opening party tomorrow night with complimentary specialty martinis (yum!!), items from their bar menu, and a live DJ along with free valet parking. They claim they are located in Silver Lake, but that's just their way of trying to tell you that they are hipster-friendly. Cuz real angelenos know that silverlake = losangeles.

I'd be so all over this if I wasn't pulling my 60hr workweeks. But you should still go and tell me all about it afterwards so I can live vicariously through others!!

Try to count how many fedora hats you see at this event. Should be a fun exercise...

RSVP here!

Tuesday March 3rd
7-9pm
Barbarella Bar
2906 N. Hyperion Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(310)815-8840

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good stuff going on this week

Thursday
Banana Republic City Sounds Tour
Even though I used to work there for an entire month so I could score the employee discount all those years ago, I'm not a big fan of their mainstream cookie-cutter suburban mall fashions. But I AM a sucker for free booze and gift bags.... :)

Highlights from their description:
• Enjoy a live musical performance
• Savor complimentary refreshments
• Get makeup tips from a Benefit Cosmetics beauty artist
• Take home a fun-filled goodie bag
Thanks to deliciouslife for the tip! :)
Don't forget to RSVP!

Thursday Feb 26th 7-9pm
Locations:
San Francisco, 256 Grant Avenue
Santa Monica, 3rd St. Promenade
Orange County, South Coast Plaza
Houston, The Galleria
Chicago, 744 North Michigan Avenue
New York, Rockefeller Center; 67th & Broadway
Virginia, Tysons Corner Center


Monday - Friday
50% off food at Cecconi’s Opening Week Offer
Another fancy schmancy charcuterie boasting restaurant opening up in WeHo.... **yawn** BUT because they are opening this week, this normally $$$ restaurant's foods can be had for $-$$. So that means Sea Bass Carpaccio Tapenade is $8 instead of $16 and veal osso bucco gremolata is $13 instead of $26.

Mon - Fri Feb 23-27
Cecconi’s
8764 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles 90069
(310)432-2000


Saturday
Sao Paolo show at Scion Space
This show appeals to me for several reasons:
1. Close to my apt
2. Since I just returned from a Brazil trip, I have a soft spot for all things Brazilian... oh yeah, and when I was in Rio, there was some amazing artwork just plastered all over the streets for the public to enjoy
3. Free valet parking
4. OPEN BAR!! and on a Saturday!
Seriously though, this should be a great show that emanates with the pulsating energy that Sao Paolo just can't keep to itself.
Get there early to score the goods, trust me....

Saturday February 28th
7-10pm
Scion Installation L.A.
3521 Helms Avenue (at National)
Culver City, CA. 90232
(310)815-8840

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fischer Spooner TODAY at Avalon

One of my favorite techno/electronic/alternative dj/sampling artists, Fischer Spooner are headlining at the Avalon in Hollywood for the low low price of just $15! With catchy electro-pop tunes like "Kick in the Teeth" amd "Emerge", it's impossible to turn your ears away.

And because I'm the fauxLAhipster with the mad hookups, I even found an RSVP link that will get you in for FREE!

Yeah, I rock....

Friday February 20th
10pm - 2am
Cost: FREE with RSVP or $15/$20

Avalon
1735 Vine St
Hollywood, CA 90028

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thursday night party of the week

Street Fighter IV Launch Party at MOCA

Apparently, Capcom is hosting a major shindig at the Geffen Contemporary and all you need to do is RSVP to score the goodies:

The where:
The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art
152 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012

The when:
Thursday, February 12th, 2009, from 8pm-12 midnight.

The who:
You! Yes, you. And your squirrely cousin. And his best friend. On February 12th, any friend of Street Fighter is a friend of ours, and is welcome at the party.

The how:

You sign up for the party by dropping an email to sfevent@capcom.com
and await your RSVP!

The What:

So what's happening? If a roomful of SFIV isn't enough to keep you smiling, we've also got:

-Producer Yoshinori Ono on hand for autographs
-Live performance by The Knux
-Live performance by Supreme Soul from America’s Best Dance Crew
-Live performance by DJ QBert
-Customized fitted caps by Estate LA (www.estatela.com)
-Customized etching by Coveroo (www.coveroo.com)
-Customized sketches by Udon artists
-Street Fighter Club Room – If you missed us in LA, SF and NYC, here’s your chance to relive the magic
-Screening of the new Street Fighter anime “The Ties That Bind”
-Old-school arcade cabinets redesigned and reinterpreted by artists and fashion labels

And last but not least, your chance to win a retail copy of Street Fighter IV a week before it hits stores!

Yes my friends, it's a good time to be a Street Fighter, so come one, come all, and join us for a very special night of face-punching goodness!



I'll say it once and I'll say it again: why oh why must everything good always happen on the same day!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tony's Steakhouse on Sunset: Me eat meat. Me happy.

I'm usually not a big steak person. In fact, at any given time, I'm on a low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb, low-salt, low-sugar "diet." But a gal's gotta splurge sometimes, right?

Tony's Italian Steakhouse is a brand new restaurant that opened officially this past Friday. I generally don't like going to restaurants as soon as they open since they have a lot of kinks that they haven't completely worked out, but the price and location were right so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The Parking Situation
It's situated on the "cool" part of the Sunset strip near Ketchup and Whiskey A Go Go. It can be easy to miss if you're not paying attention, but there's a vertical sign visible from Sunset Bl that says "Tony's" and a small area to receive valet parking ($5).

The Ambiance
Entering, I was pleasantly surprised by the upscale ambiance. It was illuminated with 100s of candles adorning the walls and the tables. The decor was modern with clean lines, but also had that woodsy feel that people expect from a steakhouse. The "bar" area is quite spacious and you don't feel like a second class citizen hanging out there as you can at some restaurants. There's also a baby grand piano near the entryway and a guy was playing lots of soothing covers of The Beatles, Billy Joel, etc. Live music is always a nice touch, especially when it doesn't drown out your conversations. There is a large open kitchen and in front of in front of which was a communal dining area that could easily become a private party space which is surrounded by "open" windows.

The Meal
Their main schtick that was touted in the press was the fact that you can get a 6oz cut of prime steak (filet mignon, ribeye, sirloin, etc) with 1 starch and a choice of 2 sides for $25. Our meal started off with warm crusty bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt for dipping. I liked that it came in those compartmentalized little plate so the oil and vinegar didn't mix (unless you wanted it to).

The cut I selected was flatiron (aka skirt steak) with glazed carrots, broccolini (aka broccoli rabe) and truffled mashed potatoes. Truffle mash.....aaarrrggghhhh......*drool*. FYI - the mushroom polenta and one other side (can't remember name) is an extra $5, so ask if that matters to you. It was a simple steak and simply dressed which is really the best way since you can actually taste what you're eating instead of having it drowned out in butters and sauces. Med rare was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of the pinkish red center and a salty char to the outside. They also offer a small but well thought out pasta section, because how can they call themselves Italian without pasta, right? I didn't get to try this (though very tempting). Definitely something to look forward to for my next visit :d

The Booze
They do have a cocktail list, but nothing particularly inspiring - think snoozers like chocolate martinis - BUT you can get any martini of your choice for only $5! And it was a good sized martini... probably around 3-4oz, not those cheap baby kind. I had mine straight up with a twist, a particularly soothing way to melt away the stress that can easily build up foraging through traffic trying to get to this part of town.

The Dessert
We tried 3 different desserts - a grand marnier souffle, a lemon tart, but the standout for us was definitely the molten chocolate cake with olive oil gelato. The gelato tasted like regular old vanilla on the tongue, but it had the nose and finish of olive oil. I know it sounds weird, but it somehow works, trust me :) They also have a butterscotch pudding that I'd like to try out next time. All the desserts range from $5-7.

The Damage
The damage for this awesome meal of a perfect steak, a strong martini, and several shared desserts was only $40pp(!) after tax and tip. I'm definitely coming back here next time I'm craving a good affordable steak at an upscale spot.

Tony's Italian Steakhouse
8570 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood CA 90069
(310) 298-1145
Reservations recommended