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LA (SILVERLAKE): THE BEST CHEESEBURGER TACOS

By Nora Zelevansky / April 30th, 2009

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Two words: cheeseburger tacos.

I would really love to expand on that concept, but, honestly, I just came home to my husband and a couple of his friends seriously rocking out on Guitar Hero (for the fifth consecutive hour) and, well, it's just a bit distracting.  Even my cats looked concerned.

So, I'll just say this: tonight M., R., T., B.C. & I had a much needed girls night at Malo.  We sort of intended to only grab drinks (well lamo hot water and lemon for still sicky me), but it was only a matter of time.  In fact, the Ground Meat and Pickle tacos are literally one of M.'s favorite foods in the world, so we were really goners from the get-go.

First we gorged on Tomatillo and Avocado salsa and chips, until B. arrived and informed us that missing out on the Salsa Flight was a major error (she was right, mais oui).  Then we all got tacos of various kinds.  The "cheeseburger" version (which I got sans cheddar–forgot my Lactaid) is just far and away the best.  It has that elusive ground meat, usually only found on taco day at camp.  (C. & I have been searching far and wide for nachos with that meat forever!).  And the sour pickle perfectly cuts the richness.  SO damn good.

Nevermind that the regular agua they pour is totally cucumber water–I mean POINTS.  For real.  R. wondered if we were going to get massages.  But who needs a massage, when you can eat cheeseburger tacos?

The girls had wine, margaritas and mojitos, but I had tea like a grandma.  Meanwhile, my husband was playing video games like an eight-year-old.  Something is wrong here.

Something is Malo.

xo – N.

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(CLICK IMAGES TO EXPAND: Salsa, R. & M., Menu and B.C.–No T. Cause She Came Later)

LA (CULVER CITY): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / April 29th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

Purseblog gave props to my peeples at Lockheart today, which I always think is a good thing.  All my peeples . . . sorry.  I'm having flashbacks to 1993.

Anyway, you know how I love to ramble about their vibrantly hued totes.  Just glad others–experts no less–are on the same tip (especially now that Lockheart has been doing giveaways).

Better recognize.

Oh, you already did.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST NEW CLIP (BY MOI)

By Nora Zelevansky / April 29th, 2009

 

Self-promotion time (sorry, folks):

I have a piece in the May issue of ELLE, called The New White House, about this amazing Barbara Bestor designed eco-house in Topanga Canyon, where I practically wanted to buy an organic gentleman farm and hangout amidst the lavender (as long as I could dip my toes in that amazing pool too).  Seriously, one neighbor had a wooden bucket of fresh basil sitting outside her gate with a sign that said, “Help yourself!”

The owners, just as fab as the house, eco-business dude Scott Vineberg and Mona Moore Toronto shoe store co-owner Lisa Bush will be opening an LA Mona Moore annex in Venice this summer, so look out for more info on that.

xo – Gossip Girl.  Just kidding.  It’s me.  N.

LA/NYC (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / April 28th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

Okay, not to toot my own horn, but (ahem) toot, toot.

Okay, for some reason, that really didn't end up sounding so cool.  Whatever.  Turns out my early 1990's Betsey Johnson reminiscent Top Shop finds (all floral) were the right way to go (see above pic The Drewser snapped a couple days ago, although you can't really see how deeply awesome the dress actually is), as Who What Wear ran a whole story on unfussy florals today.

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They didn't include Top Shop on the list, but if you live in London or NYC or even want to order online, I'm here to tell you that they are stocking tons of great floral numbers.

Okay, now I kind of want those hot pink pumps above.  And the black and daisy number I rocked to eighth grade graduation.

The desires are endless . . .

xo – N.

NYC (AND BEYOND): THE OTHER BEST PICKLED STRING BEANS

By Nora Zelevansky / April 28th, 2009

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Just when I thought I'd already discovered The Best Pickled String Beans and proclaimed that fact to the world, I met with an unexpected development.  Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, these had to show up in mine.  And I don't even like gin.  I think it tastes like licking a cardboard box.

Does anyone else think I'm getting off track?

The point is that I swung by B.'s Carroll Gardens house for her birthday BBQ and, in the midst of one of the most enjoyable fêtes I've attended in a while (I love a backyard BBQ above most other things, especially when the food and folks are topnotch), I discovered the above Rick's Picks Windy City Wasabeans on the picnic table.  Actually, fellow foodie A.T. pointed them out.  They're not spicy like the Penna ones, but they sure are tasty.

Now I sorta want to try all things Rick's Picks.  Especially the Smokra (Pickled Okra with Smoked Paprika).  Have you ever have paprika bread?  They have it everywhere in Budapest, the world's paprika capital.  And it's good.

Just not with a side of cardboard box.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / April 27th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

How weird is it that I made a Bea Arthur reference on POCKET LINT on Friday and then the iconic actress died over the weekend?  I guess it's not that strange, since I tend to make Golden Girls references on the regular.  Just another testament to how impactful Ms. Arthur was in her lifetime.  I haven't been this bummed since Jerry Orbach died.

Jesus.  I really am a grandma.  It's like they forgot to erase some part of my memory before they sent me back down to earth from heaven (you know, like in Chances Are–Robert Downey Jr.?  Cybil Shepard?  Anyone?  Anyone?).  I think that's maybe grandma of me to reference too?

Eh, at least I'm well suited to The Drewser, who likes to chow down on nast grandma candy like Jordan Almonds, Peanuts Chews and MaryJanes.

So, The New York Times ran a great obituary and also Rue and Betty commented on the loss too via US Weekly and Entertainment Weekly.  Seems like they were all just as close you would imagine and hope (although maybe most of you spent less time thinking about it then I did).

Here are some other celebs responding.

Sad.

xo – N.

NYC (UPPER WEST): BEST MOZZARELLA EN CAROZZA

By Nora Zelevansky / April 27th, 2009

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Not to make an enormous generalization, BUT, in my quite extensive experience, NYC Jews have their own Christmas Day tradition: movies followed by Chinese food.  And, contrary to what some deluded cold weather dwellers might believe, we LA Jews are not throwing on yamakas and bikinis and frolicking at the beach; we're all watching Holocaust movies at The Arclight and eating noodles at Mandarette.

Actually, we also sometimes see happy movies . . . like Life Is Beautiful.  Not to be confused with It's A Wonderful Life.  Different.

Anyway, growing up, I had the most wonderful luck of spending my Christmas Eve doing something a little more unique.  One of my closest high school friends (V. knows who she is) is half-Sicilian and half-Jewish.  (I always marveled at her Italian and Jewish relatives, who seemed like the same people with slightly different accents).  Her parents' apartment was a warm and welcoming place with constant activity and crazy laughter and yelling and all that good stuff that Jews and Italians do best.  And her building was like a community, as close friends and family members seemed to live all over it and would pop by at random times, sitcom-style.

But Christmas Eve was the bestest of the best nights at their place, as her 80/90-something (depending on the year) Great Aunt, who made me look low energy at 16-years-old, would prepare the most fabulous feast you have EVER encountered: homemade pizzas, fried artichokes, antipasti like you wouldn't believe.  More peripheral friends and siblings would angle for invites, having heard tales of the most fabulous, cozy, homey Christmas Eve celebration ever.  And, at the end of the night, generally our crew remained, still drinking the yummiest eggnog and watching (or half-watching, as V.'s dad begged us to shut the hell up) A Christmas Carol.

I guess I never paid attention because I still don't know the plot.  Eh, I remember what's important: the food.

ANYWAY, it is not Christmas (duh).  And V.'s Great Aunt has sadly passed.  But this last NYC trip, I did venture over to V.'s parent's place for dinner one night and had the amazing pleasure of chowing down on V.'s father's AMAZING Mozzarella en Carozza (see above).

First of all, he made me special buffalo mozzarella ones cause of my lactardation (SO thoughtful!) and seriously, especially with the lemon, these were out of this WORLD.  SERIOUSLY.  I mean, you can tell from the pic, right???

Now, I wouldn't even dare ask for the recipe, as I doubt it could ever be duplicated as well.  Plus I'm hoping it's a family secret.  I like to believe people still keep things like that (as opposed to in my house, where the only thing kept secret is how much we spend weekly on takeout sushi).  But there are other mozzarella carozza recipes around . . .

Of course, I can't promise they'll be as good.  In fact, they probably won't, since the above taste not only of authenticity and deep-rooted history and, well, mozzarella, but also of my own teenage nights spent smoking cigarettes with a latest crush on the family's breezeway, sipping eggnog with the girls or, ahem, ignoring A Christmas Carol.

But, if you can come close to sharing this experience in any respect, it is most definitely worth a try.  And the perfect note on which to close my posts on this most recent NYC adventure.

xo – N.

NYC (UPPER WEST): BEST NEW ADDITION TO THE OLD HOOD

By Nora Zelevansky / April 23rd, 2009

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You know when you just need a burger?

I'm not sure what the equivalent would be for all you veggies out there, but sometimes we carnivores just get a protein craving and suddenly nothing else will do.  Well, that's exactly what happened last Friday, as S., C.C.R., her baby and I wandered through Central Park on one of Manhattan's first warm days in a while.

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(CLICK TO ENLARGE: C.C.R. & S and Fabu Cherry Blossom Trees)

We naively imagined (or maybe we just collectively pretended to imagine) that we could actually expediently get a table for lunch at The Boathouse on such a beautiful day.  But when we arrived, the line for the restroom alone seemed to be at least 20 minutes.  For a waterfront table, we'd have to wait an hour and half and give up one of our first born.  Since C.C.R. is pretty smitten with her child, we decided we had to go elsewhere.  But not before our ravenous hunger was catapulted to another level when we spotted The Boathouse burger (which seemed to be served with, yup, tater tots–I MEAN).

Of course, my Upper West inclination is always to go old school, so–having decided we needed beef STAT–I racked my brain for a place to satiate our growing hunger.  Unfortunately, all I effectively achieved was creating shared depression over the closing of Diane's (a former neighborhood standard with great inexpensive burgers and pickles omnipresent condiment-style on the table like a given).  Like THE given.

Luckily, S. is a little less sentimental and suggested that, instead of mourning while starving, we head over to the new uptown annex of The Shake Shack.  After all, it seems a little silly to hunger strike about something that already closed.  Hunger striking about the closing of a burger spot that's still open, on the other hand, is not silly at all.

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("The Doublemint Twins" according to V., with whom we met up later)

Let me just get this out of the way: As if we weren't hungry and grumpy enough, S. & I showed up to meet each other in the EXACT same outfit.  Striped three-quarter-length sleeved, boat-necked tee, jeans, Ray-Bans and converse.  This is no new phenomenon for us, as people have been asking us if we were sisters since kindergarten, but it is uncanny how this often manages to happen.  And, since all three of us have known each other since we were four, you can imagine that C.C.R. was plenty amused.

ANYWAY . . . I was suspicious of trying somewhere new within my childhood stomping ground, but as soon as S. pointed out the "Root Beer On Tap," I was sold.  She knows the way to my heart, I guess.  It's a twin thang.

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(CLICK TO EXPAND IMAGES: S.'s Burger and The Menu With Root Beer On Tap)

The whole meal felt fortuitous, as we found a table with room for C.C.R.'s little bundle and all just at the moment our food came up at the counter (who needs pricey waterfront tater tots anyway).  But let me tell you something: I looked at my burger and I thought, "Eh–it doesn't look like anything so special."  Then I took a bite.  Then I inhaled the whole damn thing.  The burger itself was so flavorful that I hardly even think it needed most of the condiments.  And the french fries?  DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED.  My only suggestion: some other types of dipping sauces to mix things up, although I guess if a classic ain't broke . . .

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(Even Baby Agrees!)

Just when I thought I'd had enough burgers and fries to last me a life time (thanks to this whole upscale street food craze), I had some newbies that blew me away.

Plus, I just love some girls who can really eat (you know, being one myself).  I guess it's just a triplet thang.

xo – N.

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LA (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / April 22nd, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

Must toot my own today, as today's Daily Candy Travel by moi (edited by P.) is a round-up of resorts around the world where you can pick, pluck, catch, choose and ogle your own ingredients for high-end meals and spa treatments.

Above is an image from a porch of one such hotel, The Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, which I think is just heavenly.  The below image of one of their bathrooms makes me even happier.  I mean, seriously, I LOVE a good hotel bathroom and this one looks all white and bleached out and clean and springy and lovely.

Sign me up for it all!

xo – N.

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