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LA (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / March 31st, 2009

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The Best (Other) Link Today:

Okay, okay.  I know I'm stretching the Crumpled Twenty definition yet again.  BUT.  Did anyone watch House last night?

I'm a huge Mos Def fan.  But awhile back, The Dreswer and I heard some oddball Hollywood rumor about him going AWOL on some project (no memory of the deets).  But I remember that we were surprised and thought maybe it was a misunderstanding.

But then last night in the flash back/fantasy scenes on House, he was like slurring.  And we started wondering if Hugh Laurie peered at him with a perplexed expression because he was acting (as House) or if he was actually worried about Mos Def.

I think maybe I am.

But maybe I'm just reading into things?

This is how rumors get started . . .

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / March 31st, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

So, Blackburn + Sweetzer blogs almost daily about amazing sales, but just wanted to highlight today, as her list featured Madison (which, in my book, is the greatest cause it includes several amazing lines like Chloe, Lanvin etc.) and the sale doesn't start until Thursday.  Good heads up cause, I don't know about you, but I like to get greased up and ready for a good sale in advance.

Don't ask.

Another recent sale listing

xo – N.

DE/MD (TO DC): THE BEST SOFT SHELL CRAB SANDWICH

By Nora Zelevansky / March 31st, 2009

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I don't know if it's the warm weather or just wanderlust, but lately I can't stop thinking about the various summer road trips A. & I have taken over the years.  Today, oddly, the drive I feel like reliving isn't technically a road trip, so much as a route to somewhere else:

At the end of every summer, Andrew and I meet his family in Bethany Beach, Delaware for a week of mellow beach time.  Some summers have been hurricane-filled; others have been Democratic Convention-heavy; still others have simply been characterized by perfect sunny days and early nights. Every summer, though, we eat our weight in boardwalk treats from fries with vinegar to chocolate-covered bananas and Andrew's favorite soft serve. And, of course, on one special night, we cover the picnic table on the screened-in porch with newspaper and we gorge on blue crab and Old Bay.

For some reason, the drive to and from Washington Dulles airport stays with me, as much as the rest of the trip. Maybe it's because I miss the east coast, but I just love passing through all these tiny old towns and rural farm areas.  Despite Andrew's usual antsy desire to get to the airport quickly or to the beach even quicker, I generally coerce him into a few choice stops along the way.

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(A Happy Me–Last Summer–With A Cherry Limeade For The Drive)

I'll take you through a post-vacation drive to the airport: First, after we've stopped for 30 minutes at The Outlets, I need a Diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic for the drive.  There are no Sonics in LA proper (though they cruelly advertise), so it always feels like his huge treat.  (Claudette actually hooked me them, when she lived briefly in Dallas).  Basically, it's Sprite, grenadine and fresh limes, so it's sweet, but tart.  Okay, now I need one.  Damn.  Sonic is a "Drive-In" technically, so I always end up standing in a parking spot like an idiot, waiting for my drink, while Andrew gets gas across the street.

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(CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES: Andrew at Adam's Fruit Market)

Next, we stop at Adam's Fruit Market, where Andrew rushes me between options like Apple BBQ Sauce, Jalapeno Mustard and Fig Jam.  I mean, seriously, who can resist a great country store?  I could happily peruse for hours.  Everything just feels so relaxed and wholesome!

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(CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES: Our Pit Stop at Stevensville Crab Shack)

Last, but surely not least, we cross over into Maryland and stop at Stevensville Crab Shack (or at least we did last summer and, judging by my obsessive preoccupation with the experience, we'll be going back again).  Although blue crab is everywhere in Delaware/Maryland, a really great crab cake or soft shell crab sandwich can be elusive.  But these were so delicious that I'm still thinking about them. Also, I just love pulling off the road and sitting under an umbrella with my back to a field, while noshing on these delicious (not too greasy, not too mayonnaise-filled) miracles.

Then it's back to the airport for the long bitter sweet trip home.  I'm always a bit melancholy.  But Waldo and Mina, here we come.

xo – N.

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(CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES: Baldo and Bean)

NYC (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / March 30th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

Well, I obviously couldn't ignore The Pipeline's post about 12 Spring Dresses under $200 (even though under $2 would be more in my price range at the moment–poor, poor POCKET LINT).  Word play!  Get it?  Poor?  I still got it, after all these years.

Anyway, lots of cute stuff, including the (above right) Colour Block Dress from Top Shop, which I love the most!  (Oh, the Brits and their colours.) Not to mention a Fred Flare Blue Button Bustier dress, which I saw almost exactly replicated in yellow at Forever 21 this weekend at Le Grove for $17.80.

Well, I may end up wearing a Forever 21 shopping bag as a dress this season, if things don't pick up. But you all should grab the frocks listed here and think of me as you meander, cutely down the street.

Except the male POCKET LINT readers.  You guys should not meander cutely down the street in dresses.  I mean, I guess to each his own.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST RASPBERRY GRANOLA

By Nora Zelevansky / March 30th, 2009

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You know what's the worst?

I mean, besides stressful Monday mornings, the down-sliding economy, people starving in Africa, Ann Coulter and Lacey on Hell's Kitchen (bye, bye).

The worst is when you eat something disguised in beige as healthy (in that it doesn't taste good enough to be bad) and the food ends up being really fattening.  I'm sure many of us can recall such an experience, perhaps with humus or protein bars or sunflower seeds or, my personal cross to bear, granola.  You eat a pound, feel virtuous and then, low and behold, you realize you've eaten the equivalent of a Double Cheeseburger Combo sans the yumminess.  So. Not. Cool.

Well, recently my love/hate frenemy affair with those fickle oats was resolved when I discovered Galaxy Granola at Whole Foods.  First of all, the Radically Raspberry flavor (my fave, despite the slightly lamo name) has chunks of freeze dried raspberries in it.  I love that stuff, but usually begrudge myself the pleasure because the containers at checkout are not cost effective when you eat the entire thing in fifteen seconds. (But how could anyone be expected to do anything else?  I mean, we're human, right?)

But, most significantly, this company replaces the usual cup of oil with "the juice of three apples."  I just like how they say that: eye of newt, hair of the dog that bit ya and the juice of three apples. Anyway, this granola is so so good and it's literally 1.5 grams of fat per serving instead of A MILLION in the normal kind.

Anyway, just passing on a happy tip.  I'll be eating my granola and thinking of you all this Monday morning, while I try not to dwell on Ann Coulter's existence.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST INEXPENSIVE KITCHEN TOY

By Nora Zelevansky / March 27th, 2009

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I am not a very adept chef.

This much we all know is true (Exhibit A).  However, I am a fan of anything that makes my life easier or more comfy (Ode to cotton loungewear and chenille socks . . . How do I love thee?) AND I love me some salad too, so . . . 

When my sister bought me the above Chef'n salad dressing mixer (although mine also has various recipes on the sides), I knew instantly that life had changed for the better.  I mean, the benefits are obvious, but if you make a lot of salad dressing, you can literally create it and then keep it and then mix it or even make versions from the recipes on the bottle using convenient measuring lines!  I mean, c'mon people.

OR, if you're really lucky, you can invite your oddly salad dressing savant friend T. over to mix some tasty concoction and keep it until you're licking the very last vestiges of delicious dressing from the lid and arguing with your husband over the remains.

Not that that happened to me.  Cause it didn't.

Ode To Salad Dressing Mixers . . . Oh, Dearest Friend, How I Lived Without Thee, I Do Not Dare To Ask.

xo – N.

VA/CO/IL (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / March 26th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

At the risk of becoming a cupcake blog, when all I previously did was whine about their inescapable presence, I just had to link to Tasting Table's Everywhere post about the trend towards bacon cupcakes.

I mean, BACON CUPCAKES.

Here on Fairfax, I've previously mentioned a resto called ANIMAL (actually featured for a new insane Loco Moco fois gras situation on Tasting Table's LA post at the same time).  Anyway, they make a signature bacon chocolate crunch bar, which is the closest thing I can think of to this wild phenomenon.

Now, I'm a true believer in a sweet/salty combo.  I know I've gone on and on about Fleur de Sel Eclairs at Boule and I'll never turn down a chocolate-covered pretzel, BUT this crazy cupcake and bacon sitch is something I'll have to try before passing judgement.

Fortunately, although the spots cited are in Chi Town, Virginia (lucky, Anju) and Boulder, apparently Chicago's Bleeding Heart Bakery (promising punk rock pastries—hmm) will deliver.  So, you really can try it anywhere.

And if anyone happens to do that (or just live in the right city), I'd like a full report, please!

Cause, you know, the proof is in the bacon.

xo – N. 

LA (WESTWOOD): THE BEST BELL PEPPER SMASH

By Nora Zelevansky / March 25th, 2009

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Lately, every time I go out for drinks, I get stuck bar side trying to place my cocktail mood.  Starting from when drinking age commences (which, growing up in my NYC world, was far earlier than probably bares mentioning), one tends to go through drink phases; as in “that’s my drink.”  See cocktail choice is a matter of taste, but drinks can also help you affect postures or underline identity.

Beer? You’re just a regular unpretentious dude or a laid back girl who can hang with guys. Martini? You’re a salty broad with a touch of class or a 007 operative (shaken, but never stirred). Vodka tonic? You’re drinking pretty regularly, right? Long Island Iced Tea?  You’re deeply immersed in the Greek system or maybe just a very drunk 16-year-old. Peach schnapps? You’re, well, puking.  At least if you’re me.
Once people get older, maybe people settle on a long term favorite or abandon hard liquor altogether for red wine.  But I’ve never been a big fan of structure or sameness, so I often find myself staring hard at the drink menu (or bottles lining the bar) wondering, what can I order that’s not too sweet, not too harsh, not too boring, not too filling etc.?
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Well, this past weekend for a Daily Candy scout, chef and managing partner Warren Schwartz (ex-Executive Chef of Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica) gave me (and T., who came with as a favor) a tour of his brand new domain, Westside Tavern (opening today).  Sadly, I didn’t have time to partake in delicious menu items from Hot Smoked Trout with Potato Crisps with creme fraiche and a poached egg to Grilled Four Cheese & Tomato Sandwich or Roasted Butternut Squash Agnolotti with brown butter, fried sage and crushed hazelnuts.
But I did get to sit down with Warren and sample four of the restaurant’s signature cocktails (masterminded by pre-Prohibition era inspired Mixologist Ryan Magarian) and I was blown away.  Above is my favorite of the drinks: a Westside Smash with hand pressed spearmint, aviation new western dry gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly extracted red bell pepper juice, house made clover honey syrup.  I’m not usually a gin girl, but this was out of this world.  It was not too sweet, not too intense, not remotely odd despite the veggie component; just the perfect combination of fresh and flavorful.

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(CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES: Grapefruit Rickey With St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Mango Daiquiri With Angostura Bitters, and Signature Cantaloupe Cucumber Deluxe)
All the cocktails far exceeded anything I’ve had in quite a longtime.  So, I guess that’s a recommendation.  Anyway, now I can say that (as long as it’s available) a Bell Pepper Smash is my drink.
I wonder what that says about me.
xo – N.

LA/NYC (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / March 25th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

For about five years, I've owned an amazing pair of high-heeled camel-colored Marc Jacobs leather boots that hit my leg at just below the lower calf.  Though I've often rocked them under wide-leg or even boot cut jeans over the years, I've always been sad that their utter fabulousness remains hidden under cuffs, with only the perfectly rounded toe peeking out.

Well, now, I'm psyched cause, thanks to today's Who What Wear about cropped boots, I feel like I finally have permission to wear my boots as I want without feeling like an oddball.  Okay, I know it's lamo to take style cues from the likes of Emma Roberts and Olsen twins, but I figure I'm actually taking cues from their stylists, so . . . Introducing, "The Cropped Boot"!

Hallelujah.

xo – N.

LA (HOLLYWOOD): THE BEST LOCAL TAX DEDUCTION

By Nora Zelevansky / March 24th, 2009

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2009_03_25MFP3(A Communal Area and Inspirational Poster At My Friend's Place)


It's one thing to complain about the state of the world, and it's another to actually do something about it.  I should know because, generally, I do a lot more talking than acting when it comes to giving back.  Sure, my bleeding heart occasionally leads me to volunteer: I make the bi-monthly Goodwill run, participate in bi-annual call center work for Planned Parenthood and, every four years, I work for a political candidate (Yes We Can!) of choice.  But, on a daily basis, I rarely take myself out of my comfort zone for a good cause.

Last weekend, our friend Jane Cho invited my parents and me to volunteer at My Friend's Place, a drop-in center for displaced or homeless teens, where she is a primary fundraiser (among other things). Upon arrival, we got a tour of the facilities and a quick sense of the charity's mission and background:

Basically, the organization was formed years ago after an HR guy bribed some homeless teens off his office's front stoop with the promise of lunch and wound up with over 200 hungry kids to serve.  Now the org instills confidence in the kids via art programs (Jane herself is a Yale Drama grad like my sis) and special circus classes in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil's outreach arm, volunteers guidance and proper clothing for job interviews and offers a safe, warm, non-judgmental refuge complete with some counseling services and food.

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(The Facility's Circus Training Space, Which Is Hugely Important To The Kids)

We arrived at My Friend's Place to volunteer, but, in fact, what they need more than anything is donations.  This month they have to commence closing during weekends because of underfunding, which is a huge loss for the teens and really for the neighborhood, in general, as these kinds of programs keep crime down.

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(CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES: Food Prep, My Mom At Our Dessert Station, My Father Manning The Grill)

On this particular Saturday, though, we prepped for and served a BBQ lunch to a bunch of teens in need. Without getting into silly details of manning the dessert station (my ever blindly supportive parents claimed I topped ice cream in the wrong order . . . whatever, bossy peeps), suffice it to say that the experience was incredibly rewarding and the kids were really different than I anticipated (I have to admit): more together and shockingly articulate.  Apparently, many of them don't even identify as "homeless" and consider this a transitional moment for them.  We, of course, hope that they're correct.

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(My Father, Mother, Cute & Preggers Jane Cho and Me)

Anyway, we got to feel virtuous and good about ourselves and all we did was serve ice cream.  If that easy breezy act can make a difference, imagine what larger actions or contributions could accomplish.

Just some deep thoughts by POCKET LINT.

Now, excuse me, while I climb down off my pedestal and make an ice cream sundae my way.

xo – N.

P.S. Yesterday's Daily Candy Everywhere was a little piece I wrote on another very valuable charity, Share Our Strength, which fights childhood hunger.  For that org, you can volunteer or even just purchase a couple tickets to an amazing high-end foodie event.  Check it out!