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LA (CULVER CITY): HOMEMADE CHARCUTERIE & SOFT SHELL CRAB [SUBLIME FOOD LOUNGE]

By Nora Zelevansky / October 20th, 2010

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What's in a name?  Well, that really depends.

If your name is Something-or-other Rockefeller, then quite a bit.  On the other hand, if your name is Sublime Food Lounge, we're just going to try and get past that.

In other words, I am not a fan of the new Culver City restaurant's name, though the food is another story.

For one thing, I think it's on the nose to call something "sublime."  Sort of like how I feel about Caché in Santa Monica. We get it. You have "caché."

Second, "food" is implicit.  Third, "lounge" is cheesy.

Fourth, when I posted on FB that I was going to Sublime, I realized belatedly that it sounded like I was going to see that band in concert and I really don't like them.

All that said, I went with B.C., P.H. & The Drewser to check the resto out on Friday night and the food was pretty damn AWESOME.  There's definitely a French influence here between fois gras and steak frites, but there's also an innovation and a farm-to-table vibe.  Also, it was a pretty place to sit, in the back patio and plenty warm with heat lamps.

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Most importantly, the flavors are all there.  Everything was really tasty and delish.  We LOVED the soft shell crab special (although that is at the end of its season, so that will soon disappear) and the chef makes his own charcuterie/salumi sitch, which is ALWAYS a great thing in my book.  (He's all about the sauces and so am I, so).  The steak frites dish was so tasty and the meat was super tender.  Plus, truffle french fries dipped in sauce are NEVER a bad thing!

Actually, they were sublime.

xo – N.

P.S. Okay, okay, I know I owe you all an apology.  Lately my food pics have been more like grainy third rate soft porn from someone's basement in Paramus.  But I promise, I'm getting back on my real camera horse!  Rise 'em, camera!  (Or whatever that means.)

LA (CULVER CITY): THE BEST HONEY FRIED CHICKEN WITH TANGY HOT SAUCE

By Nora Zelevansky / May 5th, 2010

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Condiments, condiments, where for art thou, condiments?  Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?  One on which I eat lots of hot dogs and hamburgers with BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, sliced pickles and such?

Yes, condiments are one of the great loves of my life.  The list of foods I eat simply as vehicles for things like bacon salt, soy sauce, Braggs, carrot ginger dressing, Tapatío and BBQ is too long to even begin.

So, you can imagine my joy at visiting Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, only to discover multiple dipping options from tangy hot sauce to warm luscious honey to drip on your biscuit.  (That's not a euphemism for anything; you and your dirty mind.)

My friends L.T. & K.L. had both raved about the spot and, since he'd suggested the Chicken sandwich, Andre and I split that and a lunch special with fries and a biscuit.

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In case you were wondering, this is NOT health food.  But it IS tasty.

And also in case you were wondering, I promise that I will now take a break from writing about fried chicken of all sorts.  I know, I know.  You guys are just the unwitting victims of my culinary phases.

This one, though, is definitely worth a try.

xo – N.

P.S.  I know I should be doing Mexican food or something because it's Cinco de Mayo, but I couldn't help myself.  Next time!  Ole.

LA (CULVER CITY): THE BEST GOODBYE OVER SHMANCY BURGERS AND SWEET POTATO FRIES

By Nora Zelevansky / June 29th, 2009

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A wise man once said, "The times, they are a'changin'."

That man advised "getting with it" and accepting said change or, he warned, "you'll sink like a stone."  Eh.  What did he know? He was probably on a pharmacy's worth of drugs at the time.

I prefer to fight change at every turn or at least pout about it . . . loudly.  HARUMPH.  (Okay, maybe not the kind of change he was referencing, but . . . you get the picture).

Well, lately it seems like things are changing in every aspect of my life and at an intense and rapid pace, so I hardly imagined feeling remotely happy at an intimate Sunday afternoon goodbye party for my friend C.R.  Though I'm happy for him, of course.  Blah, blah. blah.  Whatever.

Still, he chose the Culver City Father's Office, which I've actually never visited, so I was excited for their notoriously delicious burger with gruyere, blue cheese, caramelized onions, smoked bacon reduction and arugula.  I like the vibe at the original, crowded, dark, pub-like Santa Monica spot, but the noise level is sort of deafening and the seats are few, so this was definitely easier, brighter and closer to home.

I won't go on and on about the burger and CRAZY GOOD SWEET POTATO FRIES that got scarfed long before my camera was remembered (or about the sort of fab bathroom situation) cause many a food obsessive already has covered this territory.  But I thought I'd at least post an image of that amazingly delish creation, which proved just as yummy as I remembered, if only to remind C.R. about what he'll be missing in NYC.

That's right, my dear C.R.  I will never forget our Dorito taste tests,"vegetarian" bacon runs, Franzia box wine-filled college art openings, video game vs. heroine addiction debates, my knee high boots, your puffy white jacket. Good outfit. Bad hair. NOW!

Come visit often; for the burger at least. 

Miss you already.

xo – N.

P.S. I still want my sidewalk crack image! NOW!!!

LA (CULVER CITY): THE BEST BAG OBSESSIVE’S PARADISE

By Nora Zelevansky / March 9th, 2009

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(Lockheart Co-Founder Jennifer Tash & The New Bag Love of My Life)

I love bags.  You love bags.  We all love bags.  Those of us with souls and boobs love bags.  Personally, I'm particularly fond of the bold, unabashed colorful ones (though not necessarily busy), which make a boring old jeans and tee combo feel fresh.

So, a couple years ago, when I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer Tash, co-founder (with longtime biz partner Trang Huynh) of burgeoning bag line Lockheart at their Culver City offices, I was blown away by the whole situation:

First of all, never have I met a bunch of "bag ladies" with so much passion and true commitment to their craft.  Second of all, you walk into this bustling sort of creative, chaotic wonderland and can basically experience the life-cycle of a tote, hobo, or purse from the leather scrap and inspirational image stage to a rainbow of "rich hippie"-style samples with Lockheart's signature vintage hardware, high-end textile lining and countless innovative pockets.  (All the better to hold POCKET LINT, my dear).

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(Leather samples, Just One Of The Many Lockheart Doggy Mascots, Me Looking Sloppy Compared To Another Fabulous Bag, Just Some More Fabu Bags)

To this day, when I come by their offices to view a new season's collection or to grab some goods at one of their seriously incredible sample sales (stay tuned at POCKET LINT for info on these UNMISSABLE sales as they arise), I plan to stay for 20-minutes and an hour later I'm still touching, ogling and oohing and aahing.  Cause, even when a Lockheart bag gets too embellished for me or just doesn't quite suit my style, the techniques are fascinating and the quality is impeccable.

Most, recently, I fell in love with the above (top) pink, purple and brown Bargello Geometric Yarn-style bag, which looks like a woven thread pattern, but is actually made with leather.  And I ended up writing a story for Riviera (O.C.) about the bag's young SoCal designer, Genette Sasser, who actually started out as a shoe designer. You can read that here.

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(Bags, Bags, Bags and Genette Creating Patterns For Bags)

Anyway, these ladies have been promising to get their website up-and-running for a while, so keep an eye out cause it should be up soon.  (Meanwhile, if you google them, you'll find lots of e-stores, but specifically I found the Bargello-style clutch at Saks).  And keep an eye out here for sample sale info too.  Seriously, the sales are not to be missed.  From one bag lover to another.

xo – N.

Q & A: Food Question, Let Them Eat Cake?

By Nora Zelevansky / February 19th, 2009

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(Sweet Lady Jane Cakes–Hmm–Maybe It's Time For an Un-Birthday)

Question: (Posed by anon via "Ask Lifestyle Questions!"–2/19/09)

Since you know everything good in L.A., I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on where to get a great birthday cake. 

Answer: Moi?  You're too kind.  I don't know everything good in L.A.  Just ALMOST everything.  Hee.

Now, let's get down to cake business!  YUM.  Obviously, there are a million places to go, but here are some varied options below:

1.
Eagle Rock Italian Bakery is a hardcore real deal Italian bakery in this burgeoning hipster east side hood.  (If you trek here, you CANNOT skip a drink at The Chalet and dinner at Casa Bianca, a red-checkered tablecloth Italian pizza joint and neighborhood standard up the street–fried eggplant pizza and cannolis are the famed choices).  The bakery's traditional Italian 
birthday rum cakes are unbelievable and CRAZY inexpensive and you get to pick yellow, pink or blue flowers.  I told you: OLD SCHOOL.  As my grandmother used to bring us versions of this from Brooklyn as children, I searched high and low and was incredibly psyched when I made this discovery.

2. Any true Angeleno worships the ground that Sweet Lady Jane walks on.  All the cakes in this sweet little Melrose WEHO cafe are beyond DELICIOUS and ridiculously beautiful looking (though not so cheap), but their famous Three-Layer Berry Cake is the best (I think). 

3. Buttercake Bakery in Culver City (well, adjacent) has a yummy, sort of a homemade feel, but with professional level deliciousness.  I'm a glutton for their classic Signature Buttercake with traditional vanilla cake and chocolate frosting (you can choose other frosting, but pleeeaase).  If it ain't broke:) They're opening a WEHO annex shortly.


4. Okay, I know this goes against some of what I preach, but, as vegan cakes go, I'm a big fan of the Carrot Cake from
Cooks Double Dutch Jivana Vegan Bakery.  It's seriously yummy and moist.  For reaaals.

So, you can have your cake and let me eat it too!  Best of all worlds . . .


xo – N.

LA (CULVER CITY): THE BEST FLORAL DESIGN STUDIO/VD FLOWERS

By Nora Zelevansky / February 3rd, 2009

Nora's gma

Ever found yourself in the midst of a heated debate among brides about centerpieces?  I have. And I'm here to tell you that it's deeply boring. And maybe even a little bit depressing in that 1950's housewife, Revolutionary Road kind of way.

See, for me, wedding planning loomed like an alienating nightmare: though I'm girlie as they come in most ways and particular about style, I'm missing that craftsy, wedding planning gene; you know, the one that spurs brides to tie intricate bows on homemade welcome baskets for out-of-town guests. Also, organization doesn't come easily to me in anything but work (which leads my mother to believe it's willful, but it's not!)  So, the concept of choosing centerpieces–beyond wanting them short enough not to obstruct conversation–was totally beyond me.

At least until I met the ladies from Dandelion Ranch.  First of all, Clover Chadwick and Fawn Fletcher have the most amazing names in the world.  (That wasn't really what I set out to say, but don't they???) I met Clover years ago, when she first set up shop at Push Emporium, Downtown's open-floor-plan mini-complex of independent designer wares that I was covering for Daily Candy.  Her arrangements instantly blew me away: her aesthetic has this organic, yet modern, rustic, yet refined, pretty, yet quirky vibe that is beyond beautiful.  Who knew flowers could be cool (and that floral designers could be even cooler)?  Years later, as we planned my wedding flower palette, Clover was even tolerant when I repeated fifty times that I wanted "those cool pods" in the arrangements.  Low and behold, I instigated a heated conversation about centerpieces.

Clover's background is actually in restaurants and she approaches flowers the way a contemporary market-to-table chef might approach food, shopping regularly at markets for the freshest, most seasonal blooms and preparing them with ingredients in a proper mis-en-place format.  Maybe that's why she does flowers for the most amazing, chic eateries in town from Grace to Sona; eateries where they treat food like art.

Dandelion Ranch used to be based in Hollywood, but now Clover found Fawn and they've opened up their first retail outpost in a Culver City barn. Yup, barn, like moo.  (It's just so amazingly LA to happen upon crazy spaces like barns in the middle of an urban hood.) Anyway, they've set up this adorable outdoor garden, where they'll eventually hold events and parties, and they have this whole two-story-ceilinged indoor set-up too.  It's so sweet and rustic that I not only want to sit down to sip tea with them there daily, but I sort of want to move in. (See pics from when they first opened below; though things are a bit more polished now).

Anyway, for my grandmother's bday (86–go Nana!) we ordered an arrangement to be sent to her in Pasadena (see picture above).  How beautiful is that?  I wish that everything in my world looked this effortlessly pretty.

xo – N.

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