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LA (WEHO/BH): THE BEST SECRET SHERRY SOCIETY

By Nora Zelevansky / July 31st, 2009

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I don't know what it is with me and "the drink" this week, but I seem to be posting about a boatload of liquor.  I like calling alcohol "the drink."  It reminds me of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn or something.  Her father totally liked "the drink" a little too much.  Remember when her aunt brings the flowers from her father to her graduation?  Saaad.

But, anyway, on that note: on Wednesday night I got a sneak peak at The Bazaar's Secret Sherry Society, which may or may not exist, since it's all secret and underground and stuff.  I may or may not have been there, tasting four different types of sherry from lightest and driest to darkest and sweetest from almondy Manzanilla to hazelnut-esque Amontillado (yes, as in The Cask of . . . coincidentally, my favorite Poe story ever), still sweeter nutty Oloroso and finally dessert wine Pedro Ximénez.  These wines (all from one tiny region in Spain with distinctive white, chalky "terroir" or soil quality) and a classic Rebujito cocktail (with fino sherry, club soda, lemon and lime juice and mint) were paired with four tiny tasting dishes: an Olive Oil Bonbon, Norwegian Lobster, Tournedos Rossini (Wagyu beef) and Chocolate Bonbons from the Patisserie.  I may have not eaten the fois gras with the Wagyu because–moral issues aside–I hate anything related to liver.  That may have happened or may NOT have happened.

I also may not have come home and almost actually WATCHED plus-size dating show More To Love, which should really be rejected on the sole basis of its name.  Thank goodness Andrew stopped me.  But what the hell is a girl supposed to do when The Bachelorette ends???

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[CLICK ON IMAGES TO EXPAND: A Rebujito Cocktail, Lobster, Wagyu Beef and Bonbons in a Pretty Pink Box]

But I digress: I really didn't know much about sherry, except that it sometimes get a bum wrap.  And I might have previously thought of it as a very sweet after dinner drink or "digestif" like port or brandy.  But, thanks to this Secret Society (which you can totally join BTW) and knowledgeable/easy-on-the-eyes Beverage Director Lucas Paya, I now know a lot about the wine and tasted several quite dry versions actually.  Sherry is a wine that is consistently blended with more wine and alcohol, as it ages.  So, the sweetest version we drank (or didn't drink–who knows?), which most matched my previous perception, actually included wine barreled since 1927.  Pretty amazing!

Anyway, I can't tell you anymore about the Secret Sherry Society meeting because the first rule is, of course, that we can't talk about it, a rule that I'm totally adhering to by writing this PL post.  Duh.  But suffice it to say that my hand is healing well since the blood pact.  Also, I learned a ton about sherry.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE LIMONCELLO, CALI-STYLE

By Nora Zelevansky / July 30th, 2009

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Not that I don't ADORE my couch . . .

but sometimes I wish I could be transported elsewhere (no offense Andre, Mina and Waldo–I'd totally love to bring you with me).  Italy sounds like a pretty good imaginary escape from LA's desert heat, so I was definitely excited to close my eyes and sample a chilled, lemony liqueur from Ventura Limoncello Company.  Not that I don't love wine, but this sounded like a refreshing change of pace.

I realized pretty quickly, though, that I had no idea how to drink the stuff and, being a food crazed spastic maniac, but not a spirits expert, I hadn't ever really learned.  And I have enough spirit writer/mixologist friends to know that liquor (like food or art or anything else) is a complicated, layered thing to be treated with respect.

So, without further ado, here are some tips on how to serve Limoncello:

1)  The traditional Italian way: drink very cold (from the freezer) in a cordial glass after dinner (though the flavor is a bit acquired, if you're not accustomed).
2)  Mix a little into a glass of Prosecco to create a "Limosa."
3)  Drink a Limoncello sparkler (mixed with club soda).
4)  Pour over ice cream, fruit, or white cake.
5)  Check out Ventura Limoncello Company's website for traditional and cream cocktail and dessert recipes.

Good thing for us, when these folks get lemons, they make limoncello . . . right here in our own backyard.  Molto bene, dude!  (Get it?  It's Cali and Italian!)  Funny, funny.

xo – N.

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LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST CRAN-ORANGE GRANOLA SURPRISE

By Nora Zelevansky / July 29th, 2009

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Okay, I know I've already wasted a lot of your time going on an on about Galaxy's Raspberry Granola.  BUT I went out on a limb and tried the Cranberry Orange flavor this week and it's even better: chewy and crunchy and just delish.  SERIOUSLY.  So, I had to write an addendum.

Plus, okay I admit it: I'm tired and feeling a little lazy tonight.  So there.  Take that.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST COCONUT CREAM BODY BUTTER THAT SMELLS LIKE BEACH

By Nora Zelevansky / July 28th, 2009

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Guess I'm having a beauty product moment between yesterday's post, today's and, well, that's pretty much it.  But still. 

Shocking that I haven't written about something you can shove in your mouth and get fatter from in a couple days . . . maybe I should be clear: Don't eat this.  I know it still SOUNDS like a food post being about coconut cream and body butter and all, but don't try that at home.  Or even outside your home.  Or even in a crazy person home, where you've been forcibly committed.

As you all may know, especially if you've endured my long-winded odes to shea butter, I'm a huge fan of really intense body lotions (generally soufflés and butters).  And I leap at the chance to try new, yummy smelling versions.  I just can't get enough.  I just can't get enough.  I just can't seem to get enough.

Well, my latest obsession is Lalicious' Coconut Cream Body Butter made locally here in SoCal.  The lotion is dense and velvety and wonderful and, especially accompanied by that Honey Mango Shave Cream I rambled on about yesterday, it makes your skin feel really hydrated and soft. The products are also paraben-free and natural, which is an added bonus.

The three above scents, while not being subtle per se, are all very pleasing, BUT I am just a sucker for anything that smells beachy and coconut-like.  I do love more abstract scents too from Jo Malone to Issey, but an inexpensive beachy body spray can hook me too.

In fact, if it weren't for products like this Lalicious Coconut Cream (and actually Blossom's inexpensive Sugar Bomb Body Mist, which also smells like vacations and tropical breezes and is for teens–WHAT???  I also watch the new Degrassi Junior High on Nogin, so . . .), I might just constantly slather myself in suntan lotion sans sun exposure. In winter. At night. Where the sun don't shine.

Now, the only problem is that I have a Lalicious dependency.  But what can you do?  Those are the body butter breaks.

xo – N.

LA (GUINEA PIG): THE BEST CREAM SHAVE, RESOLVED

By Nora Zelevansky / July 27th, 2009

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Okay, guys and gals: This is the moment you've all been waiting for . . .

Actually, you probably haven't been waiting at all, but I'm sort of excited to have finally taken a "Guinea Pig" post to resolution after the great Revitalash debacle of early 2009.  Plus, I sort of like the idea of you guys waiting with bated breath for the verdict on Honey Mango Shave Cream.  Maybe it's because I'm waiting with bated breath for the stunning conclusion of The Bachelorette tonight (clearly, the MOST dramatic rose ceremony ever!) and I need to believe that other people out there are as lame as I am.

Anyway, without further ado: I think I should begin by admitting to some bias.  I like ANYTHING called "Shave Cream" instead of "Shaving Cream."  It just sounds all British and nice.  So, in that respect, I suppose I'm not very discerning.

Last "Guinea Pig" post on The Pocket Lint (or last week on . . . oh whatever): When it comes to this product, I've heard everything from "This shave cream will change your life for the better!" to "This shave cream will gum up your razor!" and those comments were only from two of my multiple personalities.  United States of Linty.

No, really I heard those reactions from two separate people, neither of which were personalities from inside my head.  Really.  I only have two other personalities: a hard-living blues singer named Peaches and a Dick Tracy era gangster.  And neither one of them has ever used Honey Mango anything.  Peaches only uses peach flavored products and Dick is just allergic.  Okay.  I've officially lost it.

Anyway, here's what I've decided: 1) This type of natural, sort of non-foaming "shave cream" DOES always gum up your razor a bit, although it washes off really easily and, I mean, every kind of shaving cream does that a little bit.  2) This Honey Mango Shave Cream can gum up my razor anytime because it smells AWESOME and it makes my legs INSANELY soft.

Normally, I have to use heavy duty shea butter lotions to keep my legs all smooth and hydrated, but, with this Shave Cream, my legs are silky like a Legs commercial.  Me likey.

So, that's the verdict for me.  I still love my regular shave gel, but, I have to admit, it doesn't do my legs quite so well.

Now you can stop holding your breath.  You know, cause you were waiting for these results, right?  Will the shave cream–who is here for the right reasons and is just looking for love–get a rose or go home crushed?  Next week on the Guinea Pig.

xo – N.

LA (WEHO): THE BEST “GOODBYE TO LA” PISCO SOUR AND PAPAS CANARIAS

By Nora Zelevansky / July 24th, 2009

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My 'rents are leaving town today.

Badadadadadum, dum, dum. Badadadadum, dum dum.  (That was my blues riff, in case you were wondering).

They're not running from the law.  And they're not going on vacation.  They're moving.  At least for now.  They'll be coming around the mountain when they come.  What am I talking about?  Anyway, while I'm totally bummed, we did have a fun week "doing LA" with my sistah (no, really, my sister) before they left.

For final LA cocktails, we ended up at SLS' Bazaar, which (if you don't already know) is a wild romperoom of carnival-style wacky Philippe Starck madness.  It's an open floorplan space attached to SLS Hotel with two restaurants, a patisserie, a bar, an ecelectic boutique called Moss, a cotton candy fois gras cart and a fortune teller.  I'd been to dinner here a few times before.  And, actually, Andre and I spent our wedding night at the hotel the first night it opened.  But my parents hadn't experienced the whole shabang.

For the most part, the food and the cocktails are totally amazing, which makes the sceney hype of the spot feel earned.  It's just fun and, well, LA in every way.

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I love their Pisco Sour and the above Papas Canarias (or salty wrinkled potatoes with mojo verde) and those did not disappoint.  The Chamay and Vodka Martinis consumed by the others were clearly a hit too (judging by the speed of consumption), although I have to admit that emotional eating and self-medicating have definitely characterized this last week in LA.

Eh, I'm tired.  Too much drinking and eating.  That's all folks. Badadadadadum, dum, dum.

xo – N

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LA (LA BREA): THE BEST WAY TO DO YOGURTLAND

By Nora Zelevansky / July 23rd, 2009

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Ma soeur is OBSESSED with la Yogurtland.

And, for weeks, she's been trying to coerce me into equal excitement.  As a lactard, though, I obviously can't consume large amounts of frozen yogurt without risking a stomach ache (even with the help of Lactaid).  So, I confess that I sort of wasn't listening.

Bad, Linty!  Bad!

Still, I agreed to stop by the La Brea location earlier this week, so she could get her fix.  But only once she started shaking and jonesing like a crazed meth addict.  MUST. HAVE. SPRINKLES.

Anyway, we arrived and I immediately realized the error in my ways.

Maybe my reaction was a result of childhood years spent gorging on salad bars from NYC's Korean groceries?  Maybe anyone with a pulse just freaks for make-your-own-sundae?  But, either way, Yogurtland should be renamed "Yogurt Heaven."

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Basically, there's this wall of frozen yogurts, featuring about fourteen flavors.  You're given some little sample cups, so you can try a few.  Everything is D.I.Y., so it's totally fun and there are multiple swirl options with combos of two flavors.  Even just the act of serving yourself yogurt out of the machine is oddly satisfying like you're playing ice cream shop.

Once you've chosen your flavor or flavors or even flavorsssss and picked your cup size (ha–cup size–sorry), you wander on over to the topping bar, which is actually like TWO entire bars.  Toppings range from cereals to crumbled candy bars and candy pieces to fruit to mochi balls and red bean paste to traditional sprinkles and Ghirardelli sauces from dark to white chocolate.  I mean.  So fun!  And you can add as much of whatever as you like.  One malted milk ball, perhaps?  Two fruit loops?

Anyway, my sister did something totally brilliant: she layered a flavor of frozen yogurt, then some toppings, then another layer of a different frozen yogurt flavor and then different toppings etc. etc. etc.  Just a good tip.  SO. GOOD.

Either way, I think this is a great addition to the hood and I fully plan to partake and risk stomach ache later this week.  In my humble opinion, peanut butter frozen yogurt is basically worth a distended belly any day and they had that on the menu, so . . . Nuff said, oui?

xo – N.

SONOMA: THE BEST SMOKED SALMON SALAD

By Nora Zelevansky / July 22nd, 2009

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I do realize that I'm still obsessing over Sonoma like two weeks later.

I promise this is my last "great local Sonoma resto" post for a while (and, no, crossies don't count).  BUT, the above smoked salmon salad has been haunting my dreams like a tasty Freddy Krueger or something, so . . . I had to share.

Sorry.  That was so not a tasty image.  Forget that.  Let's say instead that the salad is dancing in my dreams like sugar plum fairies.  Ahhh.  Much better.

Either way, Barn Diva (home to said salad) is another locavore haunt in Healdsburg that sources produce from Quivira Vineyard.  I feel like you can just see the ingredients' freshness, no?

I wish I had that salad now.  I would tear it to bits with my claw like hands.  BAD, FREDDY!  This is MY blog. Sorry.  That was Freddy, not me.  Sometimes he is so out of control.

xo – N.

LA (AND ENGLAND): THE BEST CHOCOLATE COVERED HONEYCOMB BITES

By Nora Zelevansky / July 20th, 2009

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Terrible photograph.  Brilliant idea.

Anyone who has ever sampled chocolate covered honeycomb knows that there is hardly anything better in the world.  And a bite size version?  I mean, that is just perfection.  I found these at Joan's On Third, when I ducked in yesterday and pretended to shop, while luxuriating in the air conditioning.  I mean, WHAT. IS. THE. DEAL.

Anyway . . . when I'm not too hot to eat again, maybe I'll grab some of these.  And you can buy them online too!  The Brits sure know their candy.  I just like saying CRUNCHY NUGGETS.  Crrrrunchy nuggets. Okay.  I'll stop.

xo – N.

SONOMA: THE BEST FENNEL-INFUSED SALUMI WITH PICKLED GRAPES

By Nora Zelevansky / July 20th, 2009

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Did everyone have a good weekend?

I know I did.  So, why am I so damn grumpy now?  Maybe it's because of the ridiculously oppressive temperature in my un-air conditioned apartment or the fact that the freestanding air conditioner that Andre and I just purchased turned out to be, well, not freestanding.  DAMMMMMIT!

When I was a kid and it was crazy hot, my father used to fill the bottom of the bathtub with cold water and tell my sister and me to roll up our pants, sit on the edge with our feet immersed and pretend we were fishing in a river.  But, since the TV doesn't reach into the bathroom and it's too hot to focus on reading Mansfield Park (my current book) and I don't even like handling imaginary bait, I guess I'm stuck lying on the couch with a fan pointed directly at my scowling face.  Grrrrrrrrrr.

Might as well meditate on happier, less sweltering days, like way way back in, well, last week, when I was up in Northern Cali:  Since my trip to Sonoma was all about researching Biodynamic wineries (which basically means uber-organic Rudolph Steiner-style), it seemed only fitting that we eat at primarily farm-to-table spots that grow their own produce and smoke their own meat and that whole shabang.

Soooo, we found ourselves at Zazu, a spot that, yes, has it's own garden and, yes, cures it's own meat and, yes, was recommended by every single Biodynamic wine-related person we met.  Actually, Quivira Vineyard grows some produce for the restaurant in their new Biodynamic garden.

Anyhoo, the food was totally delish, as promised, and above is a pic of my fave of the dishes from an extensive charcuterie menu: fennel-infused salumi with pickled grapes.  I mean, SHUT UP.  I would eat pickled grapes alone and freak out, but with house-cured salumi???  C'mon now.

I would also eat frozen grapes.  But maybe that's because it's SO DAMN HOT!!!!!  It's too damn hot.  It's too damn hot.  What is that from?  Eh, who gives a crap?  I wish I was in an air conditioned movie theater right now.  Any movie would do.  Well, not ANY movie.  Any movie that's a romantic comedy and doesn't require me to use my brain.  Maybe 500 Days of BLISTERING HOT SUMMER. I'm losing it.

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[CLICK IMAGES TO EXPAND: Local Brew, Eggplant and White Bean Sides, Salad With Delicious Everything and Peaches and Mascarpone atop Olive Oil Cake]

I think the images speak for themselves.  Plus, I'm too depleted from this stupid heat to bother describing anything.  It was good.  Now it's hot.  The End.

xo – N.