Category Archives: Events

Events Music Music

Social Scene: JazzReggae Festival 2013

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Reggae and Dancehall music. So every year, my girlfriends and I pack our beach bags with sunblock, towels, water and other unmentionable paraphernalia (that I won’t mention), don our requisite Rasta inspired outfits, and head over to the annual JazzReggae Festival held at UCLA. It’s a two day outdoor music festival bender held in May during Memorial Day weekend, with the first day’s emphasis on hip hop and jazz, and everyone jammin’ to Reggae, Dancehall and Soca the day after. The lineup never disappoints and this year is no exception with Ziggy Marley, Barrington Levy and Marcia Griffiths in the mix. Here are some of my favorite tracks of theirs to get you all in the Rastafari mood.

1. Ziggy Marley – Tomorrow People: The apple definitely did not fall far from the tree. His music is just as awe inspiring as his father’s.

2. Marcia Griffiths – The First Cut is The Deepest: The queen matriarch of reggae, this is her cover of Cat Stevens’s original.

3. Barrington Levy – Here I Come: A legend in his own right, his music has been sampled by the best of them from The Fugees to The Black Eyed Peas.

4. Bob Marley – Redemption Song: Couldn’t have a reggae list without the king of reggae himself. This is my all time favorite song of his. It floors me every time.

Social Scene: Hester Street Fair – East Coast Meets West Coast

Nothing says summer like ice cold beer, outdoor concerts, block parties and street food. Luckily for us, the Hester Street Fair has it all. Throw in some curated artisanal shopping to boot and you’ve got yourself a summer party. Hailing from New York City, HSF has expanded to the streets of LA, bringing with it some East Coast swag and shwag.

Featuring a seedy yet oh-so-lush beer garden, booming soundstage, grub-worthy food trucks and trendy jewels and threads, it was an awesome way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon that was almost as easy as Sunday morning. With that said, it looks like the East Coast just helped the West Coast be the Best Coast.

Dates are running through Summer so be sure to check it out and represent:

JULY 7th, 2pm – 10pm
Hollywood Night Market

AUGUST 18th, 11am – 7pm
Indie Craft Market

AUGUST 25th, 11am – 7pm
Goodnight Hollywood Blvd. Music Festival

Below are some pics from the shindig but the vendors that stood out to me most were:

  1. Janie XY – whose handmade stuffed toy foods and pets are so friggin adorable, they make you want to buy them as gifts but end up keeping them for yourself
  2. Fleet – an eclectic and crafty girlfriend duo sewing up some flirty dresses and chunky jewelry
  3. Frigate Ties – an ingenious, bright (both intellectually and color wise) and practical twist on ties that make you exclaim, “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?!”

JanieXY

Fleet Collection

Frigate Ties

Anon-Y-Mouse

Deuvo

The Poster List

Cake Bar

Heirloom LA Catering

Raggedy Threads

Ayara Thai Products

J.D. Luxe

Babycakes

Cousins Maine Lobster

Hester Street Fair

Location: Hollywood Blvd and Argyle Avenue.

 

Social Scene: Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival – Success is Sweet

My fan shot with Chef Paul Prudhomme

There’s something about the west that compels people to leave loved ones, forsake all reason, throw caution to the wind and relinquish all claims to a sense of security in exchange for the small chance of achieving something bigger and possibly, a lot brighter. Behind every miner who searched for gold, every pioneer looking to score some land, and every artist and performer waiting to be discovered is the same belief that their lives were meant for something different. Their lives were meant for extraordinary success. And if you’ve ever been to LA, you’d probably believe the same thing.

Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Yuzu Sauce by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu

It seems like behind every pair of Ray Ban aviators you come across, lives a chart topping indie pop artist, a 21 year old fashion blogger whose opinion matters more than all of the editors at Vogue combined, a reality tv star who’s making a fortune off of her well endowed money maker, a self made millionaire who’s still an undergrad, an actor turned tech investor, and in our case, an Iron Chef.

Chef Masaharu Morimoto‘s Station being bombarded by fans

And nowhere was this made more evident than last week’s Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival where wining and dining’s finest gathered together to raise money for St. Vincent’s Meals and Wheels. It was overflowing with so much talent that the venue could barely contain all of the positive energy that was being exuded by all the celebrity chefs, boutique wineries, musicians, photographers and guests. And that’s when it dawned on me. The stories of success in this city are as varied as they are common but the path usually remains the same.

Kobe Beef by Chef Wolfgang Puck of Spago

Those who achieve the greatest successes in life are the ones who know who they are, what they love to do, and have enough faith in themselves to do it. They are the eternal optimists who can’t help but see the brighter side of things and not let things get them down. Even when things are not going as planned, they see the silver lining and keep going. Those who are the most successful in this town, or any town for that matter, are those that realize that the path to success is success. And I, my friend, will definitely drink to that!

Chef Wolfgang Puck pouring yours truly a glass of wine
Trio of Pork Belly Skewer with Miniature Lo-Mai-Gai & Sunomono Salad by Chef Wofgang Puck of Spago
Nobu Style Sashimi Tacos with Tuna & Salmon by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu
Sushi Chefs of Nobu
Pork Belly Skewer by Chef Wolfgang Puck of Spago
Fresh Whole Ahi Tuna at Chef Sam Choy‘s Station
Ahi Tuna Tartare by Chef Sam Chow of Kai Lanai
My favorite dish of the evening: Wild Mushroom Ragu with Foie Gras Foam & Duck Crackling by Chef Michael Ginor of Lola Restaurant, Hudson Valley Foie Gras
My other favorite dish of the evening: Maple Glazed Pork Belly & Butternut Squash Purée by Chef Richard Reddington of Redd
Bouchon‘s Seafood Ice Serving Sculpture
Seafood Spread of freshly Shucked Oysters, Mussels, Crab Claws & Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail by Bouchon
Pot Roast Sliders with Horseradish Creme by Chef Suzanne Tracht of Jar
Steamed Sea Bass with Coconut Basmati Rice, Mushrooms & Mango Salsa by Chef Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill
Seared Shrimp, Cajun Sauce with Smoked Ham, Okra, Green Chile Grits by Chef Diego Velasco of Memphis Cafe
Goats Milk Yogurt Custard with Shiso and Plum Blossoms by Chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant At Meadowood
Maine Lobster and Chestnut Veloutè by Chef Joachim Splichal of Patina
Salmon Sashimi Croquette by Chef Nathan Eckhaus of South Gate
Pâté Trio & Ribs by Osteria Mozza
Cheese Gnovioli w/Wild Mushrooms & Sage Brown Butter by Luciano Pellegrini of Valentino
Train performing live just for us!
The Red Carpet. Dress: BCBG. Shoes: BCBG. Purse: Louis Vuitton. Jewelry: Mei Elizabeth
My empty tasting glasses by the end of the night
A few of many wines that I tasted & loved but I was only sober enough to remember to photograph the following:

Social Scene: Downtown LA Edition – Artisanal LA

Los Angeles is, without a doubt, one of those cities where there is always something going on, no matter how peculiar your interests are. Whether it be wearing Wolverine or Chewbaca costumes when it’s not Halloween at Comic Con, getting dolled up and dirty for Roller Derby, or getting festive at Midget Mexican Wrestling, the city of Angels has it all. So when I heard that Shawna Dawson of Sauce|LA was throwing an Artisinal LA event, I was on it like white on rice. This indoor farmers-market-like-food-fest was strictly focused on celebrating LA’s finest local handmade artisanal edibles and amongst all the baked goods, hand crafted cheeses and backyard harvested honey, there was a trio of standouts that Iwas utterly blown away by.

Cake Monkey Bakery, Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows and The Flying Pie Man definitely have their craft down to a science. It hasn’t been since Lex Lugor announced his shocking and scandalous alliance with the WWF’s Four Horsemen that I’ve had the wind knocked out of me by something I loved. But this time…This time, it was good. Oatmeal Cream Pie Sandwich Cookies filled with Maple Vanilla Buttercream. Luscious Lemony Meringue Marshmallows. Flaky Meat Pies. There was not one dry eye in the house after everyone sampled these good eats.

Cake Monkey’s Li’l Merri’s Oatmeal Cream Pie Sandwich has it’s secret in the Maple Vanilla Buttercream that melts in your mouth like the creamy center of a French macaron but takes you back home to a good ole America with it’s thin and chewy oatmeal cookie outer shell.

Plush Puffs’ Gourmet Marshmallows had the ingenious idea of letting you roast your own flavored marshmallow and the result was an oogey gooey, sticky icky, tartly delicious mess of Luscious Lemony Meringue goodness.

Truly of a multicultural nature, the Flying Pie Man is the brain child of Yuichiro Sato from Japan, who makes meat pies in the Australian tradition with refined French technique. This, by far, was my choice for Best in Show because the proof was in the pudding…or in this case; the pie. Made with Yuichiro’s passion for people and pie, this delicious concoction of ground beef, red wine, a mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery, mashed potatoes flecked with parsley, artisanal hand crafted parmesan from the Cheese Cave, and topped with the most buttery and flakiest crust you will ever experience in your life, takes the unassuming and underrated meat pie to another gourmet level of delicacy and comfort. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the pie because I was too consumed with shoveling it into my face but below is one I borrowed from their Facebook page.

Social Scene: Alpine Village Oktoberfest

Sometimes living in a sunny city covered in year round green palm trees, like LA, makes it difficult to realize what season you’re actually in.  So for me, when October rolls around, I always welcome it with open arms because the orange, yellow and black décor that pervades every supermarket, pumpkin patch, front yard, classroom and office always reminds me that Halloween and the holiday season are just around the corner.  However, the one holiday that most people from the States may overlook is the one that really isn’t a holiday at all. It’s actually a 16 day Bavarian festival that, like Halloween, allows you to be hedonistic before you have to be holy. It’s jam packed full of women in pig tails and short poofy skirts, grown men in suspenders and lederhosens, polka and oompah music, tons of bratwurst and most importantly, lots and lots and lots of beer. There is so much fermented wheat here that it makes a fraternity keger look like a tea party. Oktoberfest, in every sense of the word, is the ultimate sausage fest.

So being the fortunate city that we are, we too have our very own Oktoberfest. In fact, through October 23rd, the Alpine Village in Torrance hosts the largest Oktoberfest in all of Southern California. So be sure to grab a friend and your stein and head over to the coast to get your Ziggy Ziggy Oy Oy Oy on!

Social Scene: Hollywood Edition – Thrillist’s Best of the Best Food Truck Rally

I’m not one to subscribe to too many newsletters but I have to admit, I’m a sucker for Thrillist’s witty and all too sarcastic blurbs about their hidden finds of up and coming designers, web apps, restaurants and bars in the LA area. They have an eye for picking out the most well designed pieces of functional art by talented local artists, a nose for sniffing out the hottest bars and breakthrough restaurants in town, and a knack for scouring the city for the most exclusive events that you get to attend just for being a Thrillist reader. So when I received the newsletter that announced that they were holding a Best of the Best Food Truck Rally in Hollywood with donations going to Meals on Wheels, even thought it was free, I was…well…sold!

Social Scene: LA’s Greek Festival – Where OMG! meets OPA!

So I live in LA, the city (Los Angeles); not the state (Louisiana).*  And to me, LA is special.  LA is home.  However, it wasn’t always that way.  LA and I, we’ve had a very tumultuous relationship resulting in numerous fights, break ups and makeups.  You see, I’m originally from a small cow town up in Washington state and in my mind, LA was just that.  LA.  It, and for all intents and purposes all of Southern California’s culture, has had the reputation of being the culture with no culture and for years, I believed that.  We’ve been called superficial, materialistic, body obsessed, fake, spoiled, dumb, vapid, vain and the list goes on and on. We weren’t just given the nickname of LaLa Land, we earned it.

However, what I, and most people, didn’t know was that we are also the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Los Angeles is a city where people are at liberty to express themselves regardless of sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnic background, fashion sense, socio-economic class and spiritual or nonspiritual belief, without having to risk complete social suicide.  It is a place where those who are brave enough to be true to themselves, brave enough to have their speech and actions be congruent with their beliefs and thoughts, are rewarded with being welcomed by their own niche community with open arms and a loving heart.  LA is the land where people come to be who they were meant to be without fear of unwarranted persecution; a place where they come to live their lives and achieve their destiny, and a place where they come to see their dreams comes true.  Because although everyone hates on LA, everyone still wants to live here.

Many people, particularly immigrants and refugees who didn’t have those freedoms in their own respective countries, have recognized this extremely valuable fact and have made the smart move to make Los Angeles their home.  The Greek community is one of the many rich cultures that have done so and every year, they have a festival celebrating their heritage where they share their love of music, dance and food with the fine people of LA.  The Greek Festival occurs in various cities throughout California and this year I chose to attend the one in the Valley.  Although it was rather small, it did just the job of taking me away from the hussle and bustle of city life and into, what felt like a quiant Greek summer backyard picnic and bbq with all the fixings.

Although I speak English, French and Chinese, unfortunately, one of the languages I don’t speak or understand is Greek…and well, math.  And people always say that math is the one universal language in the world that everyone understands.  But I’d wager that the language of food is giving math a run for it’s money in maintaining that title.  Because, unlike the former, when one is speaking in “food”, people are actually listening.  And the food that was being served at the Greek Festival was definitely speaking to me loud and clear.  With every bite, I understood the uniqueness of Greek culture.  And, not unlike their Spanakopita and Dolmathes, I could taste the richness and depth of their traditions, history and heritage.  The food was plentiful, rich, full of flavor and most importantly, authentic as they offered all the traditional Greek specialties that would be served during a family Sunday dinner at Mama Papadopoulos’s house.  Along with the aforementioned Spanakopita and Dolmathes, they also had Moussaka, perfectly Grilled Greek Chicken, Souvlaki, Pastitsio (which had run out earlier in the day), Loucaniko and Calamari.

And it didn’t end there.  No, that was just the beginning as their sweets were just that; sweet.  Not just sugar sweet but fragrant honey suckle sweet as almost every one of their desserts were drenched and swimming in honey sauce.   To my diet’s demise and my taste bud’s pleasure, they had just as many dessert offerings as they did savory, with every variation of Baklava known to man including chocolate, pistachio, custard filled and original just to name a few.  And to make the day that much more glutinous, they also had freshly fried Loucoumathes, also known as Greek doughnuts, drizzled in honey and dusted with cinnamon for sale for just $5.

So as you can see, us Angelenos are blessed to live in a melting pot city where one of the great things about living in this diverse concrete jungle is that you don’t have to wait for a festival to partake in the various different cultures that have set up shop here.  Unlike most metropolitan cities, Los Angeles doesn’t really have a main pedestrian focused city center. There isn’t one single nucleaus. Instead, there are several.  It’s a city that’s made up of many other smaller cities, that are further made up of little towns.  And because LA is home to many different cultures of the world, naturally, these towns have come to house some of the most amazing and authentic ethnic diasporas in the United States, if not, the world.  And it is these neighborhoods that have become, in their own right, the central nucleus of their respective towns.  So for those of you who are brave enough and adventurous enough to think out of the box and step out of your comfort zone, you’ll realize that one doesn’t have to travel far or spend lots of money to experience another country, its people, hospitality or its culture.  China, Japan, Taiwan, Italy, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philipines, Ethiopia, Iran, Morocco, India, Mexico, Greece, England, France, Nepal, Brazil and so many other cultures are right in your backyard and have been all along.  They’ve all been there just waiting for you to discover them.

So with that said, I can honestly see why it’s so easy to envy and dislike her.  LA is successful.  She is the life of the party, is extremely beautiful and attractive.  She’s sexy, outgoing and fun.  And if you look deeper, she’s bright, extremely cultured and naively sweet and loving. She’s open minded and welcomes anyone who wants to be welcomed, with an open heart.  She’s always warm and sunny and on the days when she is moody and begins to cry (causing a mudslide and a car wreck or two), it’s only for a short period of time.  Just give her some space and I guarantee you that she’ll be back to her sunny and peppy ways again within a few days.  And once you learn to maneuver your way through traffic and around her multiple personalities and truly accept her for her eclectic ways of cultural richness and diversity, I promise you that you will begin to appreciate her for who she is and all that she has to offer.  So don’t be scared.  Make nice and check her out.  Who knows, you might realize that you two have more in common than you may have initially thought.  I know, I did.

*I’m seriously not trying to be patronizing but someone actually thought I was referring to Louisiana once when I said I was from LA. So ever since then, I try not to be presumptuous and assume that us Angelenos have staked a claim to that acronym.