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LA (THIRD STREET): THE BEST WAY TO SHOWCASE YOUR MUSICAL STYLINGS THIS WEEKEND [GREASE SING-A-LONG]

By Nora Zelevansky / July 30th, 2010

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If you've been living under a rock (or in The Valley), maybe you don't know that these Grease Sing-a-Long screenings have developed a crazy cult following a la Rocky Horror or something.

I haven't been yet, but this weekend they launch at The Grove, right in my hood.  A tempting proposition, for sure.  I know some people are anti-Grove, but personally I am all about that theater.

Anyway, if you go, save me a seat.  I'll be the girl in the black jeggings and blonde wig, stomping a bubblegum cigarette out with my foot.

Tell me about it, STUD.

xo – N.

ITALY (SICILY): OH, THE PLACES I’LL GO (HOPEFULLY)

By Nora Zelevansky / July 30th, 2010

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My job takes me to amazing places: Thailand, Scotland, Bora Bora, Arcadia.

Hey, don't knock Arcadia!  Not unless you're a soup dumpling hater.  HATER!

Anyway, I get to travel a lot to all corners of the globe, but sometimes I end up sitting at my desk, researching places I've never been.  Mandranova in Sicily, pictured above, is one such place that I hope one day to visit.

Visitors stroll around hilly farmland and taste olive oil created onsite, just a couple miles from the seashore.  Sixteen guests rooms and suites, including entire residences that can be rented weekly for groups, are house in three structures: Il Castello (a converted railway station), The Farmhouse and
stone La Robazza, overlooking the entire property to the water.  Take a cooking lesson, boat trip,
daytrip to Agrigento, frolic on Scale Dei Turchi and Eraclea Minoa beaches or
sip wine and taste homemade farm products like pistachio pesto and spicy
marmalade preserves, black mulberry jam or mandarin sweet cream.

Also, the hotel is really reasonably priced for Italy, starting at around $160 a night.  Okay, now transport me there.

Or here at slightly more upscale recently re-hauled Grand Hotel Timeo, just across from 2,800-year-old ruins.

Or here at super swanky Villa La Massa, where the chef has his own vegetable garden.

Anyway, I'm off to have my weekend and eat Italian food or something.  Ciao, bellas!

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST THINGS TO THROW ON EVERYDAY THIS SUMMER

By Nora Zelevansky / July 28th, 2010

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At this point, I think we can all agree that men and women are different.  But in addition to some obvious differences (men leave up the toilet seat, women leave their makeup in the sink–or maybe that's just me?), I've noticed that many men don't understand the concept of multiples (unless it applies to women–yeah you, Tiger Woods).

You boys wonder: Why would you need more than one purse?  More than one sandal?  More than one shade of lipstick?

Well, we just do, dammit.  And this summer I need one more pair of jean shorts.  See, I have a very light blue, almost white, pair that I cut myself that are short and fraying at the seams.  I have a high-waisted more styley version.  Now I need these comfy Level 99 Boyfriend shorts that I will literally wear everyday this summer.  How perfect and cozy do they look???

Just wanted to introduce you to my summer uniform.  Pleasure, pleasure.

xo – N.

LA (MALIBU): SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION TIME [RANCH AT LIVE OAK; C MAG]

By Nora Zelevansky / July 28th, 2010

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You may think you're healthy, but you're not.  After all, when was the last time you hiked a canyon, ate only 1200 calories in a day or had an afternoon stress-reduction massage?

Seriously.  You might as well be Lindsay Lohan, you're so toxin-filled.

Oh, wait.  That's me.  You probably HAVE taken a canyon hike lately, especially if you live in LA.

Still, we could all stand to be a little more health conscious, so–with that in mind–check out my story in the new C Magazine on the brand new Ranch at Live Oak retreat, which opens in Malibu in September.  This is a super exclusive 6-day/7-night program on the most beautiful sprawling property and is meant to help you recalibrate physically and mentally.  C Mag was lucky enough to get the regional exclusive.

You know what else makes you recalibrate mentally and physically?  Alcohol, drugs and jail time.  But not in a good way.  Just ask Lindsay Lohan.

I think I'd rather visit The Ranch.  Wouldn't you?

xo – N.

THE LINT COLLECTOR’S TRASHY TUESDAYS: The Reunion (a.k.a. Freaks & Geeks)

By Nora Zelevansky / July 27th, 2010

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I'm sorry, but is this not the MOST genius picture ever???  Ali "Poker Face" McGee strikes again during Kasey's serenade!

I almost don't want to write anything else because it could never be better than the image above.  And yet … I can't quite control myself.

So, at the reunion a.k.a. The Men (Who Were Willing to Show Up) Tell All: In the deleted scenes, Roberto almost takes Ali's eye out with a champagne cork, which I kind of liked because they sort of seemed like normal people … almost.

Then, Ali and Chris Harrison can't figure out why Ali can't remember putting on an astronaut's helmet at the museum.  Apparently they also can't remember that she was consuming barrels of alcohol and probably blacking out nightly.  She says when she jokingly called for "Houston," she was actually trying to reach Chris H. for help (presumably because she was scared of Kasey, who she proceeded to keep around for several more weeks–gee, I wonder if the producers made her do that?).

Chris "phantom" N. was apparently as much of a nonentity as he seemed and, as usual, Chris L. is super funny in the talking heads, when he does an imitation of the guy.  Why can't he seem to translate that funniness into conversations with Ali?

Then they introduced the boys and Craig R. looks totally cocky and like, "I get laid now."  Which he probably does.  It also says that he is 27-years-old.  Really?  He looks like 40.

ANYWAY … then some guy I have never seen before named John or something yells at "The Weather Man" about outing Craig M. as "dangerous."  Um.  Why do you weirdos care?  Then hot Jesse says he would have knocked Craig M. out in another situation and I believe him and now I think he's even cuter.  How could Ali send him home and keep Kasey???  PRODUCERS???  They could have at least left us with the eye candy.

Lots of Justin babble.  We get it.  He's an a-hole.  Moving on.  Kasey's crazy.  Justin sucks.  Frank's confused.  The Weather Man is crazy annoying.  Kirk's a great guy.  Roberto and Chris L. have integrity. Everyone else was there for the right reasons (except for that John guy, who I'm pretty sure wasn't even really on the show).  Blah, blah, blah.

Then they talk about Frank.  And Ali–in a clip–actually says, "I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with Frank."  So, that's that?  Do we think that she's going to pick no one cause he was the guy?  Some of you people in the "she's gonna pick no one" camp have started to sway me a little, but–at present–I still think she'll probably pick Roberto.

But that's just my opinion.

And, as a wise man named Kasey once said, "That's just my heart.  Jump in.  Stay a while."

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST WAY TO WRAP PRESENTS

By Nora Zelevansky / July 26th, 2010

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On a very fateful day, many years ago, I went walking around my neighborhood and happened upon an amazing shop called Vintageweave Interiors on Fairfax.  Basically, it's a home and gift store, although that's selling it short, as it's really so much more.

Essentially, lovely owner Kathy Delgado has this unbelievable eye for beautiful things and travels around the world collecting unique items.  The store itself is like organized chaos, made to look and feel a bit like sorting through a Parisian flea market (if every single item at the market was a find).  She also creates these elaborate gift baskets for clients from studios to actors etc.

ANYWAY, I have everything from beautiful vintage pillows to lavender stuffed heating pads and amazing soaps and candles from the store.  But maybe my most favorite find of all is these above Two's Company Home-Chic-Home Zipper Seal Storage Bags (a.k.a. pretty Ziploc bags).  I even covered them years ago for Variety's Stylephile blog and the store for LA Magazine.

To this day, I don't wrap the majority of my presents for people.  I just roll whatever it is up in tissue paper and fold it inside one of these pretty Ziploc-style bags (in one of two sizes).  Seriously, my friends were just teasing me this weekend about my obsession.

Anyway, just as I was sadly coming to the end of my box of large ones, I discovered Tili bags too.  Basically, they're the same concept, but the patterns aren't quite as "bordello"-chic and Frenchie, but the colorful patterns are pretty and cheerful.

Anyway, most importantly, my Ziploc-like gift wrap obsession is validated more each day!  I was just ahead of my time … and lazy about wrapping.

xo – N.

LA (MELROSE): THE BEST GOAT CHEESE CHEESECAKE [RED O]

By Nora Zelevansky / July 23rd, 2010

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I will admit that being a lactard, deprived of cheesecake for the last decade or whatever, I might have been SO partial to ANY cheesecake I could safely eat (that wasn't made of beans) that I would have dubbed it "best."

BTW: Don't you feel bad for me that I'm often relegated to desserts made of beans?  How gross does that sound?  Would you like some re-fried bean cupcakes or maybe some lentil custard pie?  Legumes gelato, anyone?  Whatever.

Still, don't bother taking my recommendation with that pesky grain of salt: The reality is that Rick Bayless' Goat Cheese Cheesecake is delicious whether you've been trapped on a dairy-free desert island or living inside a creamery.  As if the goat cheese itself wasn't delicious enough, it comes with light root beer flavored sauce (see that green stuff above) and each bite sized square is topped with the most perfectly complimentary piece of crunchy caramel corn.

Not surprisingly, Red O was in general a big success in my book.  And apparently others agree cause the restaurant was packed to the point where they wouldn't even valet your car unless you had a reservation.  No point!  You'll never get in.  Although there is a tequila bar off to the side that also serves food and requires no reservations apparently.

My other favorite dishes of the night were Mazatlan Blue Shrimp tacos with white rice, capers and olives served with soft flour tortillas on the side and (don't roll you eyes) a Goat Cheese Tamale.  Rick Bayless and I apparently share a deep unbridled passion for goat cheese.  Ode on a Grecian Goat Cheese.

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[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE: Goat Cheese Tamales; Shrimp Tacos]

A Shredded Creekstone Beef Short Rib Sopes situation with tomato-green chile sauce was also delish, as was an Alaskan Halibut Ceviche with chimichurri.  The menu is actually quite big, so I'm looking forward to returning–perhaps in August when the patio will open up–and trying a bunch more things.  More goat cheese things, right Rick?  Wink, wink.

Sorry.  That's an inside joke.  But Rick totally gets it.  Goat Cheese 4-Ever!

xo – N.

LA (THIRD STREET): THE BEST MINI CORNBREAD MUFFINS

By Nora Zelevansky / July 22nd, 2010

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I never thought I'd be one to rave about cornbread.  I love me some BBQ, but generally the cornbread gets left on my plate.  For one thing, it's sweet, which sometimes isn't my thing during dinner.  Plus, the bread is often dry or conversely greasy.  Aside from the occasional interesting jalapeño versions, it's sort of a waste of space on my plate.

Until now.

The Smokin' Joint BBQ spot opened a while back on Third Street, in the place of about five sandwich places before (one of which I happened to love).  I tried the BBQ when it first opened and liked it well enough, but since then I've sampled a few pulled pork or chicken sandwiches that Andre brought home and thought they were pretty good; getting better even.

But then the other night, I found myself in the mood for some coleslaw and BBQ sauce, so I stopped in for some takeout.  The people at the counter were super nice and they offered me a taste of a few warm mini-cornbread muffins.  THEY. WERE. AWESOME.

First of all, they're perfectly bite size, so not too much.  They're moist and sweet and when you bite into them, you find whole pieces of fresh corn.  Lastly, they're served with rich honey butter, which gets all melty and warm when it's spread on top.  YUM.

I would feature a picture some here, but, well, I ate them all.  You would have done the same thing.

I owe you one.  Oh well.  Guess I'll have to get more.

xo – N.

LA (SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION): PLASTIC SURGERY CHARGE CARDS; HUFF POST

By Nora Zelevansky / July 21st, 2010

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In case you aren't already getting your fill of Collagen just by watching Real Housewives marathons, you can check out my short satirical rant on Huffington Post about a rising trend: Plastic surgery-specific credit cards.

Charge your new assets today.

Oh and top off that nose job with a cup of tea, as today's Daily Candy about Marcelita L'Art et Le Thé's new tea salon is also my story.  Cheers!

xo – N.

THE LINT COLLECTOR’S TRASHY TUESDAYS: On a very special episode of “Frank Hijacks The Bachelorette” …

By Nora Zelevansky / July 20th, 2010

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This week on Frank Goes to Chicago ... oh, wait.  That's not what this show is supposed to be about.  This is The Bachelorette.  Ali is supposed to find love.

But, no, instead we're stuck listening to some loser named Frank ramble on and on in this incredibly whiny voice about how pivotal this moment is for him because he might find love with Ali or his ex-girlfriend and his love for Ali is actually fueling his love for his ex-girlfriend, which makes no sense AT ALL.  Meanwhile, all I can think is, why would ANYONE want to date this sweaty narcissistic dork?  Let alone bring him to a Fantasy Suite?

Two words: Heebie jeebies.

Three more words: Potential serial killer.

By the way, if any guy besides Drewser ever happens to profess his love for me, I really hope he does it like Frank, beginning by telling me how amazing his relationship is with another woman and also about how this other woman doesn't know I exist.  I can see why this ex-girlfriend of his just melts.

Anyway, she has crazy eyes like him.  Plus, she actually utters the words, "You complete me" basically, so she's CLEARLY a loser too.

Does anyone feel like this guy wasted our time as well as Ali's?  Andre pointed out that, of course, this would have been more interesting if we hadn't known it was coming for so long.  True dat.

Anyway, now I feel like Ali is like the Jennifer Aniston of Bachelorette contestants.  I'm like,  POOR ALI!  Team Ali!!!!  I want to make t-shirts!!

Anyway, cue Latin Roberto music … do the editors seriously have NO shame?  I hope that they're at least laughing the whole damn time cause if it's meant earnestly, I like can't deal.  Anyway, Ali says she thinks Roberto would make a perfect husband and I kind of agree, although I'm not sure you say that about someone you actually FEEL that way about, so much as somebody you WANT to feel that way about.  But it does seem like she likes him and she's obviously super attracted to him anyway.  Roberto stalls for 500 years before he says that he's falling in love with her, but he eventually gets it out.

Then Ali hands him a card.  My gosh.  What could that be?  A note you say?  From Chris Harrison?  What's that you say?  Fantasy Suite?  What could that be?  My favorite thing about the fantasy dates is how she has to pretend that the whole note thing is brand new each time.  "Wow.  Never seen one of those before!"  Cut to Roberto with his shirt off and a fluttering closed curtain.

Next, Ali embraces Chris L., but weirdly she doesn't follow that up with, "Guess who I did last night?"  I mean, WHAT I did.  Get your mind out of the gutter, people.  I wish he would stop being so damn awk.  He was so funny in the talking heads, when she wasn't around at the beginning of the season!  I know this is totally absurd because I eat oysters, but did anyone else feel kind of bad for the shell fish, when they started just randomly opening shells?  Like, hey, kill that guy!  He might have a pearl!  Chris should totally make Ali earrings out of them.

Ali says she is looking forward to "seeing what tonight brings" with Chris L.  Does that mean what I think means?  Size queen.  You know, she doesn't have any anxiety or guilt about this process at all, as far as I can tell.  I'm sort of impressed.  Anyway, he ain't no Ed.  This guy is like, "Um. duh.  Let's go to the Fantasy Suite ASAP!"  At least this season, the Fantasy Suites are different rooms, so she doesn't have to pretend she's never seen it before every night.  Chris L. says his mother is smiling down right now.  I think maybe she's averting her eyes.  I mean, Fantasy Suite and all.

Then Frank's back and I just want to barf on him too much to even comment.  He's a self-involved shit blob.  He's never going to be happy with anyone.  He's too neurotic.  'Nuff said.  Although it is sort of funny to watch Chris Harrison pretend he doesn't already know about Frank's "bad news" and ask with a straight face, "How do you think she'll take this?"

Well, Chris.  I think she'll take it well.

Apparently, we're all in the movie of Frank's life.  Then, of course, he's crying.  This guy is headed for a full on psychotic break anyway.  Better not to be with him then.  BYE BYE, FRANKIEEE.  See you in hell.

Anyway … Ali's wearing a dress that's not good for her at the rose ceremony.  EEKS.  Ali says she doesn't want the guys to feel they're here by default cause they aren't.  But they kind of are because she was planning to take Frank home.  I guess she would have sent Chris L. home?  Who knows …

Personally, I think she's better off.  And off we go through another week … just waiting for our next rose ceremony.  Ugh.  Stupid reunion bullshit.  Blah, blah, blah.

xo – N.