Category Archives: westside

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The 405 in 4:05 – a Batesian Compendium

Shot in HD, it’s more elements of Los Angeles in time-lapse rather than a full-fledged focus on the freeway itself, though the construction is the ‘main star’ of the video. Entitled The 405 in 4:05, it’s definitely worth the four+ minutes of your time, even if the soundtrack is a bit corny. Great, great shots and if you love L.A., you’ll love this video. Created/produced/edited by San Fernando Valley’s own Darren Bates.

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Filed under valley, westside

Not Exactly Rockin’ at Röckenwagner.

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311 Arizona Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401-1305

On this most gorgeous Sunday, we decided to make a trek to Santa Monica to enjoy three wonders of L.A.:  the sun, the traffic, the eccentricities. Each was out en masse, and since we decided to use non-English English phrases like ‘en masse,’ we figured why not keep with the theme of foreign words and visit Röckenwagner Bakery, a highly toted spot on the Westside.

After spending the greater part of an hour looking for parking (most of this was spent climbing the TEN levels within the 3rd Street parking), we walked right past the Promenade, greatly awaiting a Euro-cafe.

Instead, we entered a world of decor seemingly taken directly from Pinkberry, with a bit of Jamba Juice influence mied in. This confused, Über-modern, wannabe-sleek, pastel-colored setup immediately make us want to reconsider our choice, but since the register arrow was so narrow that we couldn’t even move (pic below), we decided to make the best of our trek.

http://media2.ct.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/5m2IeOx-NeryWbpWpRiTFg/l<—note the ‘line’ of people one person-width deep. VERY long, and not conducive to much, specifically ‘efficient business.’ But I digress. image courtesy of Yelp.

Noting a menu bereft of much aside from typical coffee preparations and some ‘premade sandwiches,’ my disappointment reached a crescendo, seriously an impetus to opt-out and head somewhere else. That said, the absolutely wonderful Julius Meinl coffee was tasty, strong (in the good way) and quite unique – sourced in Austria, and distributed only there and Chicago.  Assuaged by the coffee, we decided to give the sandwiches a shot. . .

And we were extremely glad we did. At $3.25/pop, these mini-sandwiches – squished way over to the side in the (again) obnoxiously laid out interior, almost enough so that they were forgotten, because they surely were not easy to spot upon walk’in – were clearly artisanal. Taken straight from the menu, we had the Tuna on brioche (avocado, tomato, mayo and red onions) as well as  Salami on pretzel roll (parmesan, tomato, arugula and mustard), both of which were fresh, delicious and craftsman-worthy. Take a look:

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image courtesy of L.A. Weekly

Now to say that I was impressed by Röckenwagner would be an extreme overstatement.  In fact, I’d be surprised to see this particular location succeed as the ‘hey come in, we’re a modern ice cream shop’ vibe really isn’t conducive to what they’re trying to sell (I hear the Mar Vista one is tolerable, though). That said, I would DEFINITELY grab those mini-sandwiches whenever I happen to be on or around 3rd Street, and in fact would highly recommend grabbing a dozen or two to bring to the office, the classroom, or to the family. Super delicious, and here’s hoping that they come to their senses and refine the aesthetic so as not to mislead and drive off all hungrily interested consumers.

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Filed under dine.o.saurus, westside

Rez-piration for the L.A. Marathon

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So my friend decided to run his first Marathon this year:
a) In a driving rainstorm (5.71 inches in 24 hours in Northridge)
b) a year after having ACL surgery
c) with stomach issues hindering his first three miles.
In short, dude finished in sub-5 hours in his first attempt (not quite Markos Geneti, but still impressive).

In short,  this is a proposition to all those interested:
I am looking to run the Marathon in 2012, and I started ‘training’ yesterday.
I am also looking for training partners at various points.

Now obviously real ‘training’ is something like the legendary Hal Higdon’s Guide to Running 26 miles, 385 yards, and many great runners have run utilizing various training schedules, most of which begin four months prior to the race.

That said, I HATE running – as does my beautiful wife – and I started yesterday for this very purpose: I wanted to see where I was, both from a mental and cardiovascular standpoint: my first effort garnered a 10:57 first mile, then I hit the ‘walk’ button at the 16:50 mark, or 1.6 miles into the run.

Pretty lame, right? Exactly. My point is – all of you are probably ready to compete on that level (or better), and the truth is, I’m not going to ‘train train’ until November (four months prior to race). In the meantime, I plan on running a couple 5k’s, a 10k’s and ideally the Pasadena Half, which falls perfectly in line with the ‘real’ training.

For me, the Dixie Canyon Course is a VERY good cross-country trail that spans 3.5 (somewhat demanding) miles, and generally takes us about 55 minutes. We like to do this on (dry) Saturdays, though not necessarily every week.

I guess the point here is – who’s with me? If you’re not with me, you’re against me – and that really sucks. J/K. Seriously, though, looking for partners so hit me up.

 

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Filed under central, eastside, westside

Some Like It Hot: Churros Calientes Hits The Spot

This cute little spot right next to the super-indie Royal Theatre is apparently co-owned by a Venezuelan soap opera actor and a Bolivian model. If that’s not caliente enough for you, the food here certainly is. The churros con chocolate are pure España, slender and crispy and served with a small cup of warm creamy chocolate for dipping. The rest of the menu is intriguing, with organic chicken and filet mignon paninis alongside tortilla española and bocadillos de atun. And the bodega-style vibe almost makes you feel like you’re back at a cafe in Madrid, until you remember you have to run and feed the meter.

Churros Calientes, 11521 Santa Monica Blvd, 90025. Open Tues-Sun 11:30-10:00.

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Bringing the Heat

Want to capture the essence of Los Angeles, a la Michael Mann’s brooding, impeccably-directed flick Heat?

Throw this on in the background, whether at work, at home, or in your car:  http://youarelistening.to/losangeles

Ambient downtempo set against the backdrop of live police scanners, all within the vast milieu of Los Angeles and its never-ending evening skyline.

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Filed under central, eastside, south bay, valley, westside

Vallarta, Vying for Viability.

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13051 Victory Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91606

Okay, confession time – as an avid, non-discriminatory food connoisseur, I am an addict of all things delicious. Well, that’s not the confession per se. What IS a confession is that the largest bounty of delicious in the greater Los Angeles region may well be at Vallarta Supermarkets.  At ANY of their 20 locales, in fact.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look:

A theme park?  Nope – that beaming color wheel of fresh produce is just a sliver of their wonderful selection, which also includes Carne, Cremeria, Produce, Botanas, Taqueria, Liquor, Beer, Tortilleria, Bakery, Pasteleria, Catering, Food to go and Juice Bar (And just in case that’s not enough, the also have Van Service, Customer Service, Banking, Lottery & Check Cashing).

Here’s a shot I was able to sneak of the carne/meat section before my wife, embarrassed that I was ‘The Gringo taking pictures’ almost bailed on me:

Like I’m saying, this is only about a quarter of the meat counter. The have everything from lengua to carne de res to pollo asada to cow’s hooves to tripe to chincharron to softshell crab to tilapia to fresh salmon. Dudes are so serious about their meat that the butchers wear hardhats. I’m serious – check the guy behind the counter in the red helmet.

One of the best things about Vallarta is that they also feature restaurant-type food, like some serious carneceria/taqueria type stuff. Here are the street tacos we ordered:

That’s asada on the left, carnitas on the right. Totally succulent, delicious, and even more important – the most robust condiment bar we’ve seen; cilantro, onion, jalapeno, lemon grilled onion and four types of salsa, all gratis.

In short, GO. It’s a modern American experience right here in your backyard.

Locations in Los Angeles County include:

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Filed under central, dine.o.saurus, eastside, south bay, valley, westside

Canton Kitchen: This IS Your Mom’s Chinese Food

Long before there were Korean taco trucks, Japanese teppan-yaki joints, Mongolian BBQ, and Asian fusion on the Westside, there was something that people simply called “Chinese Food.” That’s what they’ve been serving at this tiny to-go only Venice Blvd. spot since 1966. Not the Americanized Panda Express variety nor the uppity post-modern fare of, say, P.F. Chang’s, but the rustic, old-fashioned stuff: fried rice, chow mein, and a variety of beef and pork dishes, all coated in a delicious layer of MSG.

I called ahead and ordered the Cha Shu Pork appetizer, Shrimp Fried Rice, Pork Chow Mein, and an order of Egg Rolls. I arrived twenty minutes later and everything was packed and ready to go. The first thing that struck me when I got home was how large the portions were. The egg rolls were fatter than a pair of Hot Pockets and they were more than generous with the chow mein and fried rice. The bbq pork appetizer was quite tasty and the rice was excellent, with a hearty amount of shrimp. The chow mein was the weakest item, but I forgot to ask for a side of crispy noodles (which kind of makes it for me.)

While the Chinese owned-and-operated restaurant probably gets more than its fair share of stray patients from the Rainforest 420 Collective two doors down, it’s worth a drive for any Westsider looking for quality Chinese. And come on, who doesn’t love those little white boxes?

Canton Kitchen, 12511 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista 90066. Open 11:30-9:00 daily. Closed Tuesdays. To-go only.

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Filed under dine.o.saurus, westside