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LA (FAIRFAX): THE BEST BEER AND CUCUMBER SALAD

By Nora Zelevansky / March 23rd, 2009

2009_03_23GoldenState(Golden State's North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout)

Disclaimer: I'm really stupid today.

On Friday, I stayed up all night with Andre The Giant (that's The Drewser to you) belting out 90's grunge on Guitar Hero World Tour), while Mina the Cat growled at me and threatened attack.  For some reasons, she gets really angry when I sing (only me) and growls like she's possessed by demons; rock n' roll demons, no doubt. Certainly not a comment on my melodic vocals.

On Saturday, I did an alcohol-filled walk-thru of soon-to-open Westside Tavern (more on that later this week) and ended up drunky by noon; just in time to go shopping and set up for M.'s very civilized, tiny "Very Very Un-bachelorette Extravaganza."  We sang karaoke on a rented machine (see K.'s pic of me as one unsuspecting karaoke princess, uploaded to FB real time without my knowledge), drank lots of liquor (including a Sofia Rosé that I absentmindedly ruined by chilling in the freezer nor fridge.  What?  I admitted that I was drunk during set-up!) and grabbed late din-din at Comme Ca.

The point is: I'm tired, a bit hungover and not a little bit slow today, so bare with me.

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(P.S., Drewser, A.L. and M. "The Karaoke Queen" at Golden State on St. Patty's Day)

Last week, Andrew, P.S., A.L. and M. "The Karaoke Queen" and I checked out Golden State on Fairfax firsthand.  I know bloggers have buzzed about this new spot (especially about the long-anticipated opening itself), but I always feel like I need to get (and give, if anyone cares to listen) my own well-researched impression.  Also, I have to use THE POCKET LINT as an excuse for scarfing massive amounts of fried food.

I'm still loving this inexpensive upscale bar food movement, but all these burgers, sausages and fries sure help one pack on the poundage.  Apparently, "organic" and "local" doesn't equal "fat free."  If only I was trying to make weight (in a higher weight class) for wrestling.  Which reminds me: I've always loved eating yummy food, while watching Top Chef (for obvious reasons), but can someone explain to me why I so love eating a bunch of grub, while watching The Biggest Loser?  I'm like on my couch with inhaling french fries and yelling: "C'mon, Purple Team!  Bob says workout harder! It's 'Last Chance Workout' Time! Listen to your trainer! Do you want to go home? Chomp. Chomp. Pass the SPAM, Drew."

But I digress.

At Golden State, ordering is done at the counter.  The system works really efficiently too, as you can open a tab and keep coming back ("keep on going," as I called it as a child), as if you're at a bar.  Not that I was drinking as a child.  I'm just saying: how much less likely are you to forget your ATM card when your buying food instead of metallic vodka tonics at some dark club?  Ah, the good old days.

The Golden State folks (including a few guys who seem to be hands-on owners) are incredibly friendly and helpful.  They immediately recommended specific beers based on our respective tastes sans 'tude, including especially rare offerings from a special St. Patrick's Day menu.  Lately, as you guys know, I'm really into dense Guinness-like stouts and such, so they gave me the above North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (from their regular menu) inspired by 18th century English brewers served in a stemless wine glass, which I have to say I just loved aesthetically.  I mean, how compact and creamy does it look?  It tasted that good too.

Wait, I'll show you again, even closer up:

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Golden State's specialty is locavore Cali goods, so this brewsky (can you say brewsky outside of Chi Town?) is brewed in state, of course.

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(CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE: Bratwurst, "The Burger," Spicy Lamb Sausage 
W/ Sweet Potato Fries, Persian Cucumber Salad)

A.L., M. & P.S. all had "The Burger," which came with Harris Ranch beef, Fiscalini Farmhouse Cheddar, Brown Sugar Glazed Bacon, Arugula and Housemade Ketchup and Aoili (which is fancy code for "Mayo," let's just go ahead and put that out there, ending the oppressive silence).  I actually think that, in addition to my yummy beer and Persian Cucumber Salad With Shahi & Lemon and Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw sides that sort of rocked my world, the smoky flavor of the burger was uniquely delicious in LA's great burger landscape.  I'm just saying.

Another plus in my taste-test crazed mind: a condiment bar filled with tons of mustard and ketchup options ranging from Curry Ketchup to Spicy Mustard and even Hazelnut Romesco.  Shut up.  Shut up. Hazelnut Romesco!

Everyone was delightful and so was the chow, including my Let's Be Frank Brat (which was surprisingly thin not fat) with kraut (um, $6 for the whole shabang!!!) and Andrew's Huntington Meats Spicy Lamb (from LA's Farmer's Market).  The Drewser's one complaint: too few sweet potato fries.  But maybe that ultimately helps with that packing on the poundage problem?  Just ask Bob from The Biggest Loser.

And, with that, I'm out.  Gotta go recuperate on the couch.  Ahem.  And by that I mean, workout at a really hard pilates class.  Suuure.

xo – N.

P.S. Read more about Golden State.


LA (FAIRFAX): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / February 26th, 2009

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The Best Link Today:

Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is Golden State.

Actually, the new friend is Golden State, as  B + S reports that the resto will finally be opening it's Fairfax doors on March 12th.  The website is up and she even snagged an early menu draft (though it seems to be down off G.S.'s site right now–oopsy–too early?).

The spot will specialize in (what else?) Cali's best offerings, especially in the sausage department from spicy lamb to English banger.  I just think ordering "English banger" sounds fun and dirty.  Cabbage and Jalapeno Slaw sounds pretty tasty.  And I believe there will be a local wine and beer component too.

Golden State is another addition to the deeply traif restaurants that keep popping up on largely hassidic Fairfax and in the Beverly vicinity.  First there was Milk and then Animal (never together OF COURSE) and now this. (If you're curious, you can read my LA Confidential article on Animal).

Anyway, not sure how the hassidic peeps feel, but it sounds pretty damn Golden to me!

xo – N.

LA (LA BREA): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / February 24th, 2009

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(Umami Burger . . . Yum.  Maybe?)

The Best Link Today:

More happenings on La Brea: according to The LA Times' Daily Dish, a Bottle Rock co-founder has launched Umami Burger (a spot dedicated to 'the Japanese fifth taste' alongside sweet, salty, sour and spicy).  Not sure if that's a yummy prospect or not.  The idea seems a bit one note, but I still totally want to check it out.

Isn't it weird how an abstract concept can become trendy?  Suddenly, everyone has umami fever.  Maybe I should make t-shirts that say, "Whose U-mami?" (That was bad–sorry).  I'm just waiting for the "Umami Elimination Challenge" on Top Chef.  (If all the contestants were still on the show, Jamie would make umami scallops, Fabio would make umami pasta, Jeff would make umami 800 ways and Leah would leave scales on umami fish).

That said, I'm a big fan of the burger and sausage movement happening in and around LA right now: Umami Burger, 8 Oz. Burger Bar (where I LOVE the chorizo stuffed fried olives), always Father's Office, Golden State (still waiting), Wurstküche and more.

Pretty, pretty good.  (Oh, how I miss my Curb).

xo – N. 

LA: THE BEST NEW SLEW OF LOCAVORE SPOTS

By Nora Zelevansky / February 2nd, 2009

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I’msure this designates me as some kind of freak, but, before last week, I’d never really had a Slurpee before.  I didn’t even know that it was spelled with two “e”s (like Ashlee Simpson).

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

1) What the hell is wrong with you?

2) You poor, deprived child . . .

3) What is wrong with Ashleeeeee Simpson’s parents? (I’m with you on this one).

Growing up in Manhattan, I really didn’t frequent 7-11 (okay, maybe inebriated in the Hamptons). I’ve never had a huge sweet tooth and, well, I was raised by crazies who fed me carob-covered brown rice cakes for dessert. Yup, they even tried to pass off yogurt and honey as a “sundae.”

Eh.  At least they didn’t name me “Noreeee.”

Anyway, as a result of this deprivation, I have developed a love affair with gas station stores.  (I even have a favorite one: a 76 Station on Sunset & PCH).  But, still, I had never tasted the (sorta) frozen coke and cherry goodness until a fateful day last week.  I quickly became consumed.

Oddly, this new found obsession with Slurpees drew me to Hollywood’s brand new local/eco-friendly “conscious convenience” store, Locali.  See, I heard they were serving organic slushies. Enough said.  And the shop proved even more promising when I arrived and discovered other elevated versions of convenience store grub like fresh baked hot pretzels, grass-fed beef and tofu hot dogs, organic tamales and local beers and wines.

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Don’t be fooled by the location: in LA, mini-mall destinations can be high-end and chic.  Decked out in light woods (largely reused/recycled) and offering composting facilities and specially filtered water for anyone with an empty agua bottle, Locali is just a pleasant place to drop in.

Andrew insisted on sampling the vegan-wannabe Slim Jim called a Primal Stick.  BIG mistake (duh): the only primal urge it gave him was to gag; and this from someone who ate my nasty “Home Quick Fire” cookies).  Although, in a moment of hungry desperation, he ate the rest of the stick a few days later and said it wasn’t that bad.  Eh.  Maybe if you haven’t eaten meat in a really long time. Primal Stickeeee.

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(Me at Locali with Andrew’s Primal Stick–yup)

But, anyway, the hot pretzels were crusty and warm and the upscale slushies (in flavors like grape ginger and coconut) were a tiny bit spicy with a nice not-too-icy consistency.  Locali carries other types of organic products too like hand-milled soaps.

Meanwhile, on the beachier side of the city . . .

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(Fig’s warm bread and arugula butter, charcuterie plate and homemade pickled veggies)

New Frenchie, simple, seasonal restaurant at Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Fig, is opening tomorrow.  The restaurant is literally market-to-table, as Chef Ray Garcia frequents the famed Wednesday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, just minutes away.

I stopped into Fig for a preview last week and totally recommend the Elderflower Royale cocktail created by famed British Mixologist Charlotte Voisey. Andrew LOVED the chicken liver concoction (front and center in that charcuterie above) and I am a complete sucker for pickled veggies.  I couldn’t be more psyched that pickling is trendy right now.  I hope it never goes out of style.  Yeah, I said it.

If you’re not in the mood for a whole dinner to-do (or to spend as much $$), Fig also has a wine and cheese bar, where you can graze.  Over all, a charcuterie experience with cheese and cocktails is the way to go.

And on Beverly Blvd. right near my very own little Third Street hood (West Hollywood-ish) . . .

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Tapas fave Cobra & Matadors’ adjoining wine shop, known for their selection of lesser known labels, Potato Chips (formerly Bicentennial 13), is revamping and will soon launch a sandwich shop menu And, as Blackburn & Sweetzer reports, another locavore sausage spot, Golden State, is opening soon nearby on Fairfax, just above Beverly Blvd.  (Now sausage, that’s a primal stick).

Not surprisingly, local, simple, fresh, organic chow is what’s on the menu at LA’s newbie spots.  And, if all this talk of food has made you hungry, well, I guess that’s only natural.

Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.

xo – Neeeeeee.

P.S. I promise only Mondays will ever be this long . . . I know I’m breaking the cardinal blogging rule of short posts.  So long.  So long!