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THE BEST BIRTHDAY TRADITION

By Nora Zelevansky / November 9th, 2012

My friend S.D. and I have a tradition: On our birthdays, we send each other packages of either strange (but enticing) or indulgent foods from companies across the country.

The whole thing started during my sophomore year in college, when SD—with whom I’ve been friends since we were four—first sent me a candy bouquet.  Let’s just say I can’t believe how long its been since my 19th birthday and what we’ve sent each other in that time: We’ve exchanged everything from artisanal Baked marshmallows (support Red Hook!) and Zabar’s cheese crackers to salt and flavored popcorn, dark chocolate spreads and chili-infused brownie bites.

For a while, thanks to S.D., I was even a member of the Jelly Belly fan club (yup, I’m admitting that), which meant that I got advanced tasters of any new flavors that were coming out.  Yeah, I tasted the Dr. Pepper flavor waaaay before it came out.  No big deal.  I’m not bragging or anything.  Don’t hold it against me: It’s not my fault if that makes me cool.

Anyway, this Monday is my birthday yet again.  (They seem to come quicker as you get older, right?)  And today I was feeling a little blue.

This has been an amazing year, for sure.  My husband Drewser and I moved from LA back to NYC, my debut novel was published, I even just returned home from a great trip to LA, where I got to teach a Writing Workshop at Scripps College (my alma mater) and work on a feature for ELLE.

But, in the aftermath of Sandy, this is an odd time on the east coast.  Though, for me, the Obama news is happy as can be.  Writing my second book is turning out to be a slightly different process than the first time around, a bit more pressured, less carefree.  Also, I guess the passage of time always make us pensive.

Anyway, I was feeling melancholy.  But then I received S.D.’s gift for this year!  It was the above super adorable and well-designed box of Parisian Macarons from Macaron Café in NYC, from which I will most definitely sample while writing my NaNoWriMo words today.  Just the kind of writing motivation I needed and something cheerful to remind me that birthdays may be strange sometimes, but they also can be sweet.

xo – N.

PS Does anyone else think that this post should be read to the tune of That’s What Friend Are For?

 

BROOKLYN (& BEYOND): Shameless Self-Promotion & a New Type of Sushi Roll

By Nora Zelevansky / December 17th, 2011

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This is very exciting for me.  This isn't just some regular old shamless self-promotion.  This is my book … on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles!  And the cover above!  SEMI-CHARMED LIFE actually doesn't come out until this summer when I'll be doing all sorts of readings and such (July!), but it's available for pre-order as of last week.

Also, I learned via a Google Alert yesterday that it's up on Good Reads too!  I have no clue at all how that happens, which is the case for me with most of what goes on in publishing, but I'm totally pysched.  This might seem silly, all these small details, but each public announcement or step makes the whole thing seem a little more real.

Anywaaaay, what else is happening?

Well, during my first month back in NYC (Park Slope to be exact), I've discovered a new ingenius sushi roll invention: The Tempura Sweet Potato Roll.  Yup.  It's become a regular thing for me.  Well, as regular as something can be after 28 days.  Or, actually, more like 21.  Time flies when you're  … unpacking boxes.  Whatever.  The roll is amazing.  What else can I say?

Also, I went without TV for four weeks and then wrote a story about it called "In Defense of The Boob Tube" for Huffington Post's new HuffPost TV section.  If you love TV like I do (and you all know I do), then I think you'll be nodding along with this one.

Some other highlights over the last few weeks?  An interview with my favorite pair of designer sisters from ELKIN on elle.com and a write-up of new antioxidant-rich line of beauty products, Radical Skincare, for Vital Juice.

Otherwise, I've mostly been on the road and all that implies (a.k.a. slightly broken out skin and a few extra fast food pounds).  Oh, and also the freedom of the open road.  That too.

Happy happy holidays to you all!  May the New Year bring you happiness, health, money and YES! a new season of THE BACHELOR.  It's baaaaaaaaack.

xo – N.

LA (WEST HOLLYWOOD): SHUT UP. CACAO SMOOTHIE.

By Nora Zelevansky / July 11th, 2011

Eveleigh

As many of you may know, if you've hung out with me in the last six months, I've developed a somewhat bank account draining obsession with the smoothies from Earth Bar.  It's basically a high-end health food/vitamin store with hemp and almond milk smoothies that rock my world — the people are lovely, the smoothies are delicious and you get to feel virtuous cause it's all healthy and makes you pretty and stuff.  What more could you want?

There are other Earth Bar locations in Equinox gyms around the city, but the one I frequent is the only standalone location: If you find yourself in the neighborhood of Kings Road & Santa Monica, try the Radiant Skin, Amazon Immunity or the quinoa cereal with coconut — SO GOOD!  It's also sort of a secret celeb spot randomly.  Partially, I think I just love it because creamy milkshakes and smoothies have been a no-no for me, since I realized I was lactard.  Now I can actually eat them again thanks to almond and hemp milk!  Thank goodness for weirdo health food trends.

ANYWAY … after a Franklin Canyon hike this weekend with Andre and our friend A.L., she and I couldn't think of anything else but having one of those smoothies.  That's when she informed me that new(ish) nearby restaurant Eveleigh had hired a smoothie chef previously from Earth Bar to work during brunch.

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but Andre and I had dinner the night before with M. & P. at the same place.  The outdoor setting is great — all pretty, minimal/casual and outdoors.  I had a delicious Pisco Punch cocktail and we shared a salumi plate with fried bread and hot olives with haloumi (shut up!).

So, we decided to go for brunch too.  And I was more than glad that we did because I got to sample their Cacao Nut Date smoothie with young coconut meat, coconut water, sweet cacao nibs, cinnamon, vanilla stevia and vanilla hemp milk (above).  HOLY SHITE.  It's all I can think about now.  It's a bit grainy in kind of a yummy textured way and the cinnamon takes it over the top.  Damn.  I want one now.

A.L. said it reminded her of a healthier Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity in NYC, which is HIGH PRAISE in my book.

Anyway, I wanted to cry and throw a tantrum when a server took my smoothie away with a sip left.  But I held it together.  Cause that's just how I roll.  I'm quite mature.  Also, I live close by.

xo – N.

SD (AND BEYOND): SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION [BEAUTY, FASHION, FITNESS ETC.]

By Nora Zelevansky / April 26th, 2011

Persephenie

Just wanted to post links to a few of my latest on-line stories, as they may be of interest (or at least, it may be of interest to me for you all to read, re-tweet, FB etc.).

Yeah.  I said it.

Impressed?  I'm working with my therapist to make my needs known.  And, by therapist, I mean facialist.

So, here goes:

Persephenie (formerly of natural perfume shop Blunda) just launched her inaugural beauty product line and, at the end of May, will launch her first signature fragrances.  Style.com

Chloe Sevigny and Michael C. Hall teamed up with Kiehl's to create special labels for a new white clay masque to raise money for charity!  Style.com

Maya Yogev (creator of Grai) just launched her new bag line, MK Totem.  Daily Candy

I'm clumsy.  Are you?  Read my essay on being athletically-challenged. MyDaily.com [AOL]

Take a hike – through Topanga Canyon!  Vital Juice LA

Get an ice cream manicure at The Painted Nail.  Vital Juice LA

Nursing a bruised ego.  Embarrassing moments from the workout room.  Vital Juice LA

Read away!

xo – N.

LA (THIRD STREET): Roasted Peeps Revealed!

By Nora Zelevansky / April 22nd, 2011

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I'll start out by apologizing: The above is obviously not an image of a roasted Peep.

The problem is that Peeps are cute and, once I started roasting one, it seemed a little twisted like I was melting a little smiling bird.  So, I decided to spare you all that and just describe the experience.

In a word: Awesome.  It turns out that roasted Peeps are just like elevated regular marshmallows.  The inside is all good and mushy like normal, but the sugary outside turns into this crispy shell a bit like the  top of creme brulee.

SIGN. ME. UP.

I totally recommend.  Jesus Christ, that's good.  (Get it?  Cause it's Easter.  Is that wrong?)

xo – N.

LA (THIRD STREET): EASTER CANDY INNOVATION [What happens when you roast a Peep?]

By Nora Zelevansky / April 21st, 2011

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Okay, so here I was seconds from telling you all about my most amazing find: Chocolate-covered Peeps at Joan's on Third.  I was going to talk about being a Cadbury Cream Egg devotee with an occasional penchant for Peeps (only when stale).

But, then, I went in search of an image for this post because, per usual, I ate the entire delicious package before I remembered to take a picture and I discovered that Peeps themselves have had the same brilliant thought as my local gourmet market (though surely in a less upscale incarnation).

The whole investigation provoked some serious contemplation: If Peeps could be successfully dipped in chocolate than how else could we innovate them?  Their website posits recipes for Peeps macaroons (for the Jews!) and rice crispy treats, but those seem just to entail tacking the yellow and pink marshmallows on at the end.

Let's get serious and ask the hard questions: What in fact happens if you roast a Peep?

The bad news is that I have no idea.  The good news is that I plan to find out tomorrow and then tell you all about it.  Because that's the spirit of Easter, you know?  It's all about sharing!  (Or, not really, but that's a good message too, right?)

xo – N.

SANTA MONICA (AND BEYOND): Tea for two and two for ME! [URTH CAFE’S NEWEST TREAT]

By Nora Zelevansky / April 18th, 2011

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Like any mostly sane person, I have been a dedicated Urth Cafe fan for as long as I've lived in or near LA.

When I left for college in California, my parents also moved to LA (sort of a coincidence and a long story).  But I still went home to NYC for holidays to see my friends.  Otherwise I worried my legs would atrophy from never walking.

ANYWAY, when I would return to the sunny left coast with my joints greased, my parents would pick me up at the airport and whisk me off to Urth Cafe.  That always felt like my official re-entry into my sanctified Cali world.

Even after all these years, I don't often stray from my Urth Salad order (feta cheese, hearts of palm, chickpeas, olives, a baguette on the side – what else does a girl need?), though sometimes I do add a sticky bun at the end for dessert.  SO chewy and wonderful!

But yesterday, I noticed that they'd added these boba teas to the menu.  Now, that in itself is not so special, since boba tapioca balls had a Pinkberry level moment in LA several years ago.  But at Urth Cafe, not only are they using good high-end ingredients, but you can opt for soy, rice or ALMOND (yay!!!) milk instead of regular in your blended boba drink.  In short, as a lactard, I can still drink these mofos.

I used to be able to get a soy version at Zen Zoo, but – alas – that place is no more.  (R.I.P.!)  This is even better anyway cause it's almond milk (or so I keep telling myself).

I have TOTALLY gotten on board for the almond milk trend, which is also having a Pinkberry level moment, as we speak.

At least until someone decides that too many almonds are toxic and cause wrinkles, dysentery and erectile dysfunction.

But for now I be chillin' with my boba in hand.

xo – N.

LA (HOLLYWOOD): ADULT MILKSHAKES [GO BURGER]

By Nora Zelevansky / February 18th, 2011

Meg at Go Burger

Get your mind out of the gutter.  Adult milkshakes have nothing to do with "burning loins" or "units" of any kind.  (That means "penis" for those of you who are romance novel illiterate).

Anyhoo, I went to Go Burger with M., T. & R. the other night, which just opened in Hollywood.  The folks behind BLT created this spot, so my expectations were pretty high, I'd say.  And, yeah, they were pretty much met.

I mean, I'll never have a fried pickle as good as the ones from Stevensville Crab Shack, but one only finds oneself in Maryland so often and these were pretty tasty.  My lactardness kept me from trying a Jalapeno Popper, but word on the street was that they were awesome.

Next time, I'm getting in on the pigs in a blanket.  How could I have missed that?  My sister and I literally used to make frozen boxes of them as kids and eat them while watching Revenge of the Nerds.  (Yup, C., I outed you too).

I did splurge and get the hardcore Prime Steakhouse Burger with brisket, sirloin and shortribs and also caramelized onions.  It was no joke.  I mean, if you're in the mood for some serious beef, I recommend it. (That was NOT a romance novel reference BTW).

Sadly, I couldn't have an "adult milkshake" like M. is drinking above, which she said was delicious, but heavy on the rum.  T. stuck to the pure classic and got a non-alcoholic version called "Cookie Monster."

SHUT. UP.

My lactard life is sometimes a trial, but I carry on.  Sigh.

Anyway, I also ran into some random NYC friends from growing up, which I guess is some kind of sign that – I don't know – me and Go Burger were meant to be.  I guess you could say, I was there for the right reasons.

Will you accept this rose?

Seriously.  I can make ANYTHING about The Bachelor.  Test me.  I dare you.

xo – N.

LA (CULVER CITY): A SALAD TO INSPIRE, IF IT EVER STUCK AROUND LONG ENOUGH [Spinach Guanciale Salad]

By Nora Zelevansky / January 12th, 2011

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I've talked about Sublime Food Lounge once before.  I may or may not have poked a little fun at the name, while acknowledging the amazing homemade charcuterie.

But, when I went back last night, I was too blown away to utter anything but "YUM."  The Drewser and I ate a salad (yes, I said SALAD) that I am now obsessed with having again.

Basically, it's brand new to the menu, but they've just added this Spinach Guanciale Salad with a persimmon rosemary vinaigrette, sheep ricotta (cow lactards unite!) and, obviously, guanciale (which, if you don't know, tastes a lot like pieces of bacon, but it's even better).

I totally don't have a picture because I had to inhale the whole thing immediately, but trust me it's salty, sour, sweet, crisp, crunchy and creamy.  Now I want to go back and get it again.  If I do, I'm ordering their Orange Julius cocktail too, and maybe, just maybe, I'll pause to take a pic.

xo – N.

BROOKLYN (RED HOOK): GETTING BAKED [VANILLA AND CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS BY BAKED]

By Nora Zelevansky / December 14th, 2010

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I probably shouldn't even admit this, but last night I watched First Daughter, which is that fiasco where Katie Holmes plays the President's daughter and the Commander in Chief is Beetlejuice.

Personally, I recommend you spare yourself that experience.  Don't even get me started on Katie Holmes' weird mouth. Yup.  I took one for the team and, I should mention, that it was only because of the above marshmallows.  My friend S. sends me yummy food baskets for every birthday and this year's included brownies and marshmallows (yup, chocolate flavored ones too!) made by a company out of Red Hook called Baked.

The Drewser and I have been roasting them on chopsticks over our old school gas stove, which is – I realize – a little college dorm room and a little low-end, but SO YUUUUUUMMMMY!

Just take a gander for yourself:

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They're good.  So good, in fact, that I watched all of First Daughter in a contented stupor.  Isn't life grand?  Sad sad state of affairs.

xo – N.