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Shameless Self-Promotion: My Latest Articles

By Nora Zelevansky / January 17th, 2013

Well, folks, it’s been a while since I shared a slew of articles, so I guess I’ll just get down to it.  New Year.  Same me (and you!).  Yay!

But, seriously, it’s either this or ramble on for hours about The Bachelor and, honestly, it’s too early in the season for that.  Sean is the “Most Sincere Bachelor Ever.”  He’s falling for a trick who he thinks has a good heart.  She’s not there for the right reasons!  Whatever will he do?  (I mean, besides keep her until there are five girls left and then finally see her true colors.)  Why don’t the Bachelors and Bachelorettes ever believe the other contestants when they try to forewarn, when they themselves have seen, during their respective past seasons, that the other contestants have unique incite and are probably telling the truth?  But I digress.

Anywaaaaay … back to the articles.  Because we’re highbrow.  And we like to read.

1. In January’s Town & Country, I wrote a personal essay about the trials and tribulations of developing a big chest for their LOOKING GLASS section called: TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT.  (The story may or may not still be available on newsstands, as the February issue has likely already dropped.)  You may also want to check out the magazine’s new website, as it just launched in earnest and it looks fantastic.

BTW the personal essay includes snippets about growing up on the Upper West Side, which is partially what inspired parts of my still new novel, SEMI-CHARMED LIFE.  Not to be pushy (ahem, ahem), but if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy, now is the time!

2. In this month’s ELLE (that’s the February issue), I offer a sneak peek into Once Upon a Time actress Ginnifer Goodwin’s lifestyle and Hollywood Hills home.  (Hint: She loves tea!)  It’s both a profile and a design piece, so check it out.  It’s currently on newsstands.

3. For this past Sunday’s Los Angeles Times “Image” section, I wrote a story called Beckley Joins The Cool Kids about new shop Beckley opening on LA’s Third Street.  (The area is a local favorite, cool strip of independent boutiques and restaurants near West Hollywood and also where I used to live.)  The store’s owner Melissa Akkaway also launched her own clothing line last year, Beckley By Melissa, and those pieces are worth ogling online too.  I believe there’s a sale happening as we speak?  Also, look out for spring’s Beetle-Print Party Dress.  It’s on my “MUST HAVE” list.

4. Lastly, it hasn’t come out yet, but this Sunday’s “Image” section will likely include another story by me about a new cool, artsy store opening, helmed by a fabulous and interesting chick.  I can’t say more, but keep your eyes peeled!

xo – N.

LA (W. 3RD ST): THESE ARE THE PEOPLE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD [W. 3RD Street Holiday Party]

By Nora Zelevansky / December 9th, 2010

Holidayparty

Some people love the Fourth of July (people without fears of stampeding crowds and fireworks).  Others favor Thanksgiving or Easter (people who like stuffing and searching for eggs).  Still, others prefer Valentine's Day.

Actually.  That's just not true.  Everyone hates Valentine's Day.

ANYWAY … my favorite day of the year, at least in my little 3rd Street neighborhood, is the evening of the Holiday Block Party.  Picture it: Free Joan's on Third eats (and snacks from tons of restaurants as you march up the strip), a glass of champagne as you peruse discounted home decor items, red wine as you check out (again discounted) winter/spring clothing from cute boutiques, a gratis gelato cart, gratis tacos and lots of friendly people on the street, wandering around to Christmas Music tunes.

Honestly, it's the GREATEST.  You can even pretend you live in a walking city!  And the shops are open until 9pm, so you can finish your holiday shopping (or in my case, shop for myself).

Because SOME people prefer their birthdays.

xo – N.

LA (THIRD ST): THE BEST BROCCOLINI

By Nora Zelevansky / March 16th, 2010

BROCCOLI

Living around the corner from a store like Joan's on Third can be dangerous.  (The same issue applies if you live near a Dean & Deluca or any gourmet market really.)

For one thing, there's the urge to go buy and stick your face in a chocolate peanut butter cupcake every time you go to mail a letter.  Then, there's the temptation to skip dinner preparation and just buy something pre-prepared that inevitably tastes better anyway.  Finally, there's the impulse to buy and devour a hunk of Triple Cream Goat Brie that will not only eat up all the calories you've allotted for the month, but also all the rent money.

For a long time, I'd avoid these pitfalls by allowing myself the occasional quarter pint of potato, avocado, wilted arugula and lemon salad (which I still managed to feel a little guilty about).  But lately my favorite side has not been available.  Maybe it's a seasonal thing?  Maybe they're just trying to torture me.

In the absence of potato salad though, I happened upon the Joan's on Third broccolini, which is not only sublimely healthy, but is also relatively inexpensive as Joan's dishes go.  I think it's probably just prepared in olive oil, garlic, salt and a little lemon or something, but whatever it is, it's always incredibly flavorful and just the right amount of crunchy.

So, this is my mini-salute to broccolini.  Next up, a ticker tape parade for that triple cream cheese.

xo – N.

LA (THIRD STREET): THE BEST SUSHI LUNCH

By Nora Zelevansky / February 27th, 2009

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(Chicken Teriyaki and Tempura "Lunch Box" At Izakaya By Katsuya–Forgot My Camera Again, So Thank You, Blackberry)

So, in these rough times, we have to make certain concessions, cutting out pricier indulgences like our forty-fifth pair of amazing boots, overpriced potato salad with wilted arugula, avocado and lemon vinaigrette (Oh, how I love you, Joan's On Third), the gym membership we use maybe once a month on a guilty Sunday and, worst of all, our daily dose of sushi.

Well, good news: good sushi is no longer astronomical.  Okay, it sort of still is, but we really weren't giving it up anyway, right??  At Izakaya By Katsuya on Third Street (one of LA's BEST sushi spots), turns out they have these unbelievable lunch deals: for between $8.50 and $14 you can have a huge sushi or hot Japanese lunch.  I mean, are you kidding?????  Why didn't I know about this sooner???

Today I checked it out with my friend Candice of iStyleThis fame.  She got the Miso Cod & Tempura "Lunch Box" and I got the same, but with Chicken Teriyaki.  If only lunch boxes were always this good. Instead, growing up, I had brown paper bags filled with health food store peanut butter and honey sandwiches on wheat bread and an apple.  No, thank you, I'll take the sushi instead.

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(See, Candina happily eating that salad up?)

First of all, the salad dressing is insanely tangy and gingery and delish.  It costs a couple dollars extra to order your California roll with no mayonnaise (if you go the Cali route over Spicy Tuna), but if you're a mayo-phobe like moi, it's worth it.  We happened to get cooked food, but you can also get all sushi or sashimi.  Plus, Katsuya is not as loud and crazy crowded during the day, which is nicer anyway.

All I'm saying is, in these rough times, I'll take any ray of hope I can get.  And I ain't giving up my sushi anytime soon.

xo – N.

LA (THIRD STREET): THE BEST TOAST TO COAST

By Nora Zelevansky / February 18th, 2009

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(Toast's Treats–I Know, I Know, You're Over Cupcakes, But Bear With Me)

Food, glorious food!  It's been days.  I mean days.  So, here I am back to the topic of stuffing my little face (which may not be so little, if I keep scarfing food, glorious food).  But anyway . . .

Forgive me father (or whoever) for I forgot my trusty camera on this jaunt, so the pics are compliments of my Blackberry phone, which may or may not really do the eats justice.  Anyway, I went to a meeting the other day to discuss the soon-to-launch new Narciso Rodriguez fragrance, Essence (which, incidentally, is his first in six years and smells citrus-y and delish), with a New Yorker and an Angeleno, neither of whom had ever eaten at Toast.

Now, if you ask Andrew, the lines at Toast are prohibitive ("Just because the Olsen twits eat there–"), BUT, Sunday brunch notwithstanding, lunch lines are not so heinous and the food is actually kind of worth it.  (Also, the place is a hop, skip and a jump from my house on indie boutique-lined Third Street, so a no-brainer for wandering by foot).  Sure, the menu offers mostly your usual LA lunch fare (although quite a large selection), but the ingredients always taste super fresh and they happen to have the best fruit salad around: think fresh mango, blackberries and papaya.  I like the passion fruit iced tea too.

Anyway, I most often order the Chicken Chow Salad (see below), so that I have an excuse to consume either their AMAZING onion rings or their extra flavorful sweet potato fries.  (What? Sometimes a girl needs a side!)  Fries on the side . . .

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And, while I know many of us are BEYOND over cupcakes, my NYC lunch partner in crime rightfully had to try some of Toast's famed baked goods, so we ordered (ahem) FOUR.  How else were we to truly sample? A focus group needs a wide range, no?

I have always been partial to Doughboys' Red Velvet cake, but since they closed their doors (sniff, sniff) last year, I haven't gotten around to actually ordering one via their site.  Turns out that Toast's Red Velvet Cupcake (which is such a popular cupcake flavor in LA that it should become the citywide mascot) is pretty damn good, though still not quite Doughboys.  (I know my friend, Lady Lo disagrees and is all about the Toast version though, right, Lo?)

And, while the chocolate peanut butter couldn't be bad, I still think the Joan's on Third chocolate and peanut butter cupcake reigns supreme, as it's like an elevated Hostess Cupcake with chocolate filling the middle.  BUT Toast's coconut version and the regular yellow cake with pink frosting version (sorta a la old school birthday cake–a personal favorite dessert) were both totally delicious.  In fact, I went back a couple days later solo to answer a craving.  Not this salt addict's usual fix.

So, here's a toast to Toast!  Chin chin, cheers and all that jazz . . . right, cupcake?

xo – N.

Joan'sCupcake3Joan'sCupcake4
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Joan's On Third's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake. (It Looks Like a High-End Hostess, Right?) And Then Some Other Pretty Exquisite Looking Creations.)***

***These pics were stolen from the Joan's On Third site.  It's true.  What can I say?  I just HAD to share them with the world:)

A couple other key LA cupcake spots:
Crumbs (also in NYC and Beyond)

P.S. For some Beverly Hills sweets action, check out Food Marathon's take.

LA (WEHO-ISH): THE BEST OLD SCHOOL NYC SALAD

By Nora Zelevansky / February 10th, 2009

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(NYC-Style Carrot Ginger Dressing To-Go)

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(Artichokes, hearts of palm and chickpeas–oh my!)

As a born and bred New Yorker living in LA, I admit to missing certain east coast foods.  Don't worry, I'm not about to launch into some boring, predictable tirade about bagels and pizza.**

[**For the record, Bagel Broker is my pick for best LA bagel spot–just don't order the white fish salad cause it's like pureed–and Barney Greengrass has H & H, so stuff it.  Also, New Yorkers who complain about LA pizza should take a listen to what New Haven locals have to say about NYC slices.  WWIII.  I'm just saying.]

ANYWAY, so, I'm NOT going to talk about bagels and pizza.  Ahem.  Or even the fact that sometimes a girl wants some hot apple cider, you know?  No, I want to talk about salad bars.  Now, I know that Whole Foods has a salad bar and swanky Beverly Hills Bristol Farms even has a new one and there's a place in The Water Garden in Santa Monica that rips you off weight-wise just like you're back home. (Actually, if you guess the exact weight, your salad used to be free and my friend Roseanne once succeeded).  And I know that salad bars can be questionable for germaphobes and that about a billion LA cafes are famous for their salads, BUT I'm trying to recreate an experience, you know?

The only salad bar that really brings me back to the Korean groceries of my childhood is the one at Gelson's on Santa Monica Blvd.  Actually, to Andrew's mystified chagrin because it's out of the way, Gelson's is also my favorite supermarket overall, but I won't bore you with the details of that (although it is the perfect mixture of swanky and regular).  All I'm saying is TRY THE JEWISH COOKIES AND SPICY TUNA ROLLS.  That's all I'm saying.  Anyway, this salad bar has all the iceberg lettuce, gloppy Italian dressing, macaroni salad and fake krab that one needs to replicate the old school NYC experience.

One more issue (and you thought we were done): at NYC Japanese restaurants and even health food spots like Dojo's, carrot ginger dressing flows like water.  After years of searching, I have FINALLY found a similar situation in LA!  Our neighborhood hosts many of the city's hottest lunch spots from Joan's On Third (we'll talk about their wilted arugula potato salad later) to Toast, but the dressing is found at a lesser visited joint around the corner at 8486 Third Street, which has changed ownership like 85 times in that last two years.  It used to be called Chicken and Grill and now, well, I don't even know if it has a name, but it's worthwhile to stop in just for the ginger dressing.  Not for the ambience.

And now, my very low-end food post is over.  Sorry guys.  But sometimes I have to vent.

xo – N.

P.S. For LA bagels, my father swears by some place called Kosher Land, but I can't confirm until I try them myself.