<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:39:54 -0700 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:39:54 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[New Starbucks Frappucino Flavor]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:01:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Birthday_Cake_Frappuccino_%283%29.jpg

Get it while it’s… cold?

Starbucks’ popular frappuccino has turned 20 and to honor the beverage's big birthday, the company has debuted a new specialty drink—the Birthday Cake Frappuccino.

The limited-time beverage, a vanilla bean and hazelnut mixture topped with raspberry-infused whipped cream, will be available at Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada from Thursday to Monday.

The iconic drink was first released in the summer of 1995 with coffee and mocha flavors available. The drinks was initially made without whipped cream.

“The first week of launch we were tracking sales, and it was something like 200,000 drinks the first week – when we were hoping for 100,000,” Dan Moore, director of brand management at Starbucks, said in a statement. “The next week it was 400,000 and the next it was 800,000. We had figured it would do well in Southern California – but it sold just as well in Chicago, Vancouver B.C. and Boston. It was huge.”

The drink changed the company’s customer base, giving them a way to bring in people who weren’t typically coffee drinkers.

In 1999, Starbucks released the Caramel Frappuccino, complete with the now-typical “dome lid” for whipped cream.

“At the time, domed lids were radical thinking, so was the idea of adding whipped cream,” said Dina Campion of Starbucks’ Digital Team. “But for our customers it represented a momentary break – an escape in their day.”

In 2002, came the Blended Crème beverage, followed by the Frappuccino Light. By 2010, customers could customize their frappuccinos to be made with milk or soy, various coffee types and their preferred syrups and toppings.

The blended beverages are now available in 66 countries with more than 36,000 different drink combinations.

Other countries have unique flavors like the Coffee Jelly Frappuccino and Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino in Asia, the Algarrobina Frappuccino in Peru or the chocolate Brigadeiro Frappuccino in Brazil.

Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[Opening: Historic Gilmore Gas Station Starbucks]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:38:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/starbucksatgilmoregas.jpg

Many a SoCaler exists between three places when it comes to our architectural affections. We like the cool, zippy, new stuff. We adore the vintage, charming places that remain true to their era and character.

And we would very much like to see buildings that have sat empty for years, and sometimes decades, get a little TLC.

Or make that a lot of TLC. The Art Deco gas station at the corner of Highland and Willoughby avenues, just a pinch north of Melrose, received a good dose of the stuff from a company you may have heard of: Starbucks. The green, mermaid symbol? You know it.

The Seattle-based coffee chain took an interest in the built-in-1935 former Gilmore Gas Station back in 2013. It's a building known to many who travel Highland, and many know it has sat vacant, and at various stages of peelingness, for nearly two decades.

A multi-month restoration was ordered and the results, inside and out, can now by seen. The world's newest Starbucks opened at the retro structure on Thursday, March 26.

It's a wee building, as thousands of commuters know, but look for a drive-through and an outdoor patio space to stretch the hang-out-a-bility (yep, there's an order window). The store serves the full complement of Starbucks drinks and eats, from coffees to salads. As for the station's once-iconic neon lighting? Look for LED in its place.

As for what the gas station was between its original purpose as a Gilmore Oil location and a Starbucks? It was, for a time, a gas station for both Texaco and Mobil. And, yes, it has had its cinematic cameos: Look for it in "48 Hours" and "LA Story."

But did you know that the station's parcel of land once belonged to film star Wallace Beery? Tell that to the passengers of your car next time you're zipping to or fro between the Valley and lower Hollywood.

So best raise a Flat White to Mr. Beery's legacy, to the Gilmores (the company behind the Original Farmers Market, of course) and to reusing beautiful buildings that sat empty for far too long.

Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Downtown Bookfest, Bubblefest, a Costume Sale and More]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:09:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/downtownbookfestgrandpark123.jpg

Downtown Bookfest: Grand Park has been the scene for some mondo concerts, our city's splashy al fresco New Year's Eve parties and this annual treat which is all about the written word. Oh, and the spoken word and discounted books and poetry writing and cookbook swaps and storytelling and live readings! Is it free, though? So free. Is Metro close? You know it is. Do you have a TAP card? Show your Metro love and get 10% off book purchases. The weather? Warm and sunny and book-read-able. Saturday, March 28

Bubblefest Opens: It's hard to think of a bigger event at the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana. Why? Because this is, soapy bubble blowers down, the science-minded center's premiere annual event. It's popular, thanks to the shows where all sorts of bubbles are blown -- including smoke bubbles and bouncing bubbles, say what -- and all of the ways that visitors can try their hand at soapy science. Have you ever put a tiny bubble in a larger bubble? How about three bubbles in one? Show off from March 28 through April 12. 

LA Opera Costume Shop Sale: Do you need a full diva gown, complete with a beautifully stitched neckline and full skirt? How about an outlandish hat? Interesting pants once worn by a tenor? All of the above? The company's shop is moving locations -- from one downtown spot to another nearby -- and is taking the opportunity to clear out a few shelves. Or a lot of shelves: Over a thousand costumes will be for sale, starting with smaller bits and bobs for two bucks. Saturday, March 28 at 330 S. Alameda Street

Earth Hour: Where will you be at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, March 28? That's the moment when Earth Hour kicks off, locally, wherever the time happens to be 8:30 p.m. Participating businesses from restaurants to hotels will lower lights, set out the candles, and observe 60 minutes of no electrical bulb use, all to raise conservation and eco-minded awareness. LAX traditionally lowers the lights on its iconic pylons, and other spots around Southern California will flip the switch. You can, too, at home, or find local places setting out the candlesticks.

Boysenberry Festival: So many specific foodstuffs are oh-so-Golden-State-y -- fish tacos, sourdough bread, date shakes, yes, yes, yes -- but fewer from-the-vine edibles are very specifically California. The boysenberry is, though, and it is very associated -- make that very very -- with Knott's Berry Farm. Buena Park's famous theme park honors its sweet symbol each spring with a food-focused festival. This year's party opens on March 28, runs a couple of weeks, is accessible by paying park admission, and includes stuff like boysenberry flautas. We mean, really now. Boysenberry flautas. Bring us to those at once, please.

Photo Credit: Grand Park]]>
<![CDATA[Whistler's Mother: Iconic Painting Visits Pasadena]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:54:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/whistlersmother1234353.JPG

There are paintings that pave the way for other works of art for decades. There are masterpieces known alone by their hues, title, or basic subject. And there are iconic scenes, done up in oils and acrylics, that are so famous they are regularly referenced, parodied, and used as inspiration in Halloween costumes.

Grant Wood's "American Gothic" applies here, as does Edvard Munch's "The Scream" and James Whistler's "Arrangements in Grey and Black No. 1." That last painting is also frequently dubbed "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" though most of us would simply refer to it as "Whistler's Mother." 

And you know it. So well. You can probably draw it, from memory, at least its outlines, and which way the artist's mother faces in her chair and the square of the painting on the wall.

You've seen "Whistler's Mother" reprinted in magazines, on posters, saluted on "The Simpsons" and myriad movies (including that one with Mr. Bean), and now, if you head for the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena through June 22, you'll see the quiet, somber-toned painting with your own eyes.

For one of the world's best-known masterpieces is visiting Los Angeles for the first time since 1933. It typically resides at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, so a journey to California is akin to receiving royalty (and, indeed, royalty with American flair; Whistler was born in Massachusetts).

The air of art greatness does not end with Mother Whistler, however. Two more works are joining the iconic painting on its trip to the Crown City. Émile Zola by Édouard Manet and Paul Cézanne's The Card Players will also hang in the Norton Simon from March 27 through June 22. 

It can discombobulate a person, ever so slightly, to finally encounter the original work behind an image that has been lodged deep within the folds of one's experience since toddlerhood. The artwork can seem smaller or larger than you thought, or grayer or brighter, but it, above all, dispels mystery and clears away clutter, the clutter that comes from seeing it a thousand times before actually seeing it once.

When you stand before "Whistler's Mother," you're at the source of all of those parodies and reproductions and it feels good to finally know it for yourself. Enjoying a magnificent painting on top of it all is the absolute bonus.

Photo Credit: Norton Simon Museum]]>
<![CDATA[Hello Kitty Cafe Truck to Glitter Up Glendale Galleria]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:41:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hellokittytruck12345.jpg

Hello Kitty fans the world over made the trek last autumn to Los Angeles to be a part of the first-ever Hello Kitty convention, a gathering that coincided with the first weeks of the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum.

Were there bows worn by convention attendees? So very many bows, which is one of the Hello Kitty's best-known staples.

The lengthy journeys made by many devotees of the sweet-faced superstar -- who is definitely not a cat, let's just make clear -- were not all that odd. Fans have been known to travel long distances to commune with the whisker-cheeked character, which was launched by Japanese company Sanrio in 1974.

But to have Hello Kitty roll your way is a far rarer and just as whimsical treat. The 41-year-old pop culture legend, or at least her food truck, will be calling upon the Glendale Galleria on Saturday, March 28. 

It's the Hello Kitty Cafe, which brims with treats shaped like the character as well as macarons, doughnuts, mini cakes, and other adorable edibles. (Question: Should Hello Kitty attempt to put some sort of patent down on the word "adorable"? Because that should maybe finally happen.)

If you're wondering if this is the same Hello Kitty Cafe announced in the fall, the fast-casual restaurant that will sell all sorts of pink-and-rainbow'd merchandise, it is the mobile forerunner. The restaurant itself is "slated to open in Southern California in late 2015."

And, yes: The truck was out and about in the fall, too, but its appearances these days are a special thing and not an everyday occurrence.

Should a visit to the candy-hued truck not fully fulfill your Hello-Kitty-like longings, and you can't wait for "late 2015," hold tight, happy Kitties: Hello, Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty remains on exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum through the last day of May.

Still not a cat, though. She is, in large part, says an expert, "a friend."

Photo Credit: Hello Kitty Cafe]]>
<![CDATA[Grunion Fish-tival: Make Crafts, Watch Grunion]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 09:44:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/grunioncabrilloimage1.jpg

If you're into a certain animal -- say, the California brown bear or Great White Sharks or Masai giraffes or the otters of the Central Coast -- you can generally find items that have the name or photo of the beastie you adore.

Mugs, tees, plushies? They're out there.

Grunion people though have a longer beach to walk in this regard. The local mall probably doesn't have a lot of grunion t-shirts (if your mall does, it is probably the coolest mall on the planet). And finding a grunion calendar will take a lot of digging in the calendar bin.

Enter Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. While grunion items are in shorter supply, compared with other animals, wonder is not. You'll behold one of nature's most magnificent wonders, should you go on the right night. 

Yes, you'll see fish wriggling onto the beach to spawn.

Those fish, which are members of the silversides family, follow the moon and tides when planning their annual spawning. And the San Pedro aquarium follows the grunions' schedule, hosting Meet the Grunion nights and one very special Grunion Fish-tival.

The Grunion Fish-tival, set for May 19, is all about strolling down to the beach to spy the late-night spawnfest, yes. But there are also grunion-themed crafts to enjoy, grunion origami to make, and a chance to chat with grunion researchers.

Call it a supercharged night for grunionists who need more of their obsession but just can't find the grunion goods. We know -- it isn't about the stuff but the experience. But who wouldn't want a tiny grunion origami hanging from the kitchen window, to remind them of a night out in San Pedro watching fish shimmy onto land?

That is surely one special souvenir, no tees or plushies required.

Photo Credit: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium]]>
<![CDATA[Squee: Fluffy Bunny Time at the Zoo]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 13:56:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GL-BigBunny2zoola.jpg

Like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, but cuddlier, there are typically three or four ways of responding when one is invited to pet a fluffy rabbit.

Your choices? A) coo B) squeal C) pull out the camera for some sort of semi-awkward rabbit-petting-smiling selfie and D) coo/squeal at greater volume than before.

Los Angeles Zoo will provide bunnyists the chance to coo and squeal all they like during Big Bunny's Spring Fling, a three-day celebration that's bounding into the Griffith Park animal park over the first weekend of April.

First, let's just get this furry fact out of the wabbity way: There shall be real bunnies. Repeat, there shall be real bunnies at this springtime celebration, and they are fully pet-table. Not just for the looking. Not just for the wishing you could touch one. There shall be bunny petting.

The rather larger rabbit who goes by Mr. E. Bunny will also be hopping about the grounds, so if your tot needs that Easter Bunny picture this season, you can get it at the zoo.

And there is a fun focus on eggs. Not just chick eggs but several of the LA Zoo residents who happen to lay eggs, as a habit. Get to know an egg-laying tree frog, though not too closely, as the frog boasts "the largest poison gland of any Australian amphibian." Learn about the short-nosed echidna, too (which also lays eggs, is a mammal, and lacks teeth).

Other egg-laying beasties, like a Madagascar radiated tortoise, will provide education and wonder, both, at the very same time.

Crafts, face painting, and a spirit of bunny-eared merriment await at various stations and turns around the zoo.

The cost? Your zoo admission gets you in. The chance to coo or squeal while petting a honest-to-puffy-tailed bunny? Those moments don't arrive nearly enough in this life. 

Just don't squeal too vocally near the wee sweeties. Best save your enthusiasm for when you're back online, hashtagging your bunny-packed day out at the zoo.

Photo Credit: Tad Motoyama]]>
<![CDATA[Hot Dog on a Stick: Wear the Hat, Get a Free Corndog]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 18:07:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hotdogonastickday1.jpg

There was a time, not so long ago, when meats roasting on spits and gooey marshmallows melting on the end of snapped-off tree branches were some of the only edibles associated with sticks.

No longer, right? We have candy bars on sticks, deep-friend vegetables on sticks, and, yes, the ubiquitous, heavily frosted cake pop.

Much of the modern love of gnawing at something atop an easy-to-hold piece of wood stems from Santa Monica's own Hot Dog on a Stick. The corn dog icon was born just steps from the pier, near Muscle Beach, in 1946. Call it local pride with a side of mustard.

The hot-doggery's batter-riffic recipe soon spread to mall kiosks across the land in the decades that followed, and just about every fast food fan became acquainted with the frankfurters-and-more chain.

And the chain's legendary hats. The striped château worn by employees has become as much of a symbol for Hot Dog on a Stick as its corn dog, so much so it is a common conversation topic between customers and the employee ringing up their tab.

And it is a hat you can adorn yourself with — well, the paper version of it, anyway — on Saturday, March 28.

That is, if you want a free Hot Dog on a Stick from Hot Dog on a Stick. March 28 happens to be National Something on a Stick Day and the Muscle-Beach-to-the-mall favorite giving away its nosh-worthy namesake. One each per customer, if that customer shows up sporting the printable Hot Dog on a Stick hat.

Find your stylish gear here. Is this your first pdf hat? We're excited. When will pdf hats become as popular as cake pops, though? 

You get one Hot Dog on a Stick for your headwear-based show of support on the 28th. We'd also show with a few bucks for a side of that lemonade.

Because that lemonade, right? Dare we call it the third corner in the triangle of greatness that is Hot Dog on a Stick? (With the hat and corn dog representing the triangle's other two corners, of course.)

Could you eat everything on a stick on March 28? That is up to you, adventurous culinaire. For now, though, best print out your hat and find a participating Hot Dog on a Stick location.

Photo Credit: Hot Dog on a Stick]]>
<![CDATA[TRASHed: Coachella Recycle Bins Go on Display in LA]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:15:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/256*120/TRASHedCoachella2015.jpg

We users of cups and napkins and cans don't tend to think much about the receptacles in which we place our recycling or our trash. We'll toss something and walk away, not even recalling if the bin was blue or brown.

There are exceptions, of course. Disneyland Resort has been known to break out that talking, walking trash can in the past -- seriously, how do they does that trash can talk? -- and many of our national parks design their receptacles in wood and stone, the better to blend into the wild surroundings.

And there is the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, where the recycling bins are works of art. Literally, we mean: Artists have put paint and brush to the bins, all to raise awareness on behalf of Global Inheritance. The organization is eager to reduce waste, lower impact, and get people thinking about environment-now issues.

There are, you might have heard, a few people at Coachella, so call the bins a colorful and unusual way to gain notice for a caboodle of critical earth issues.

Want to see these bins but aren't heading for the Indio mega-happening in the middle of April? Angel City Brewery will hold an exhibit of all the art-nice recycle bins set to show at Coachella 2015 on Tuesday, April 7.

TRASHed: The Art of Recycling will go on display at the Arts District brewhouse from 7 to 11 p.m. on April 7th. It's free to attend, and music, beer for sale, and other festive additions await (without the Coachella sunshine, it's true, so no need to wear a wide-brimmed hat).

As for the Coachella Music and Arts Festival? As in the whole shebang? That unfurls from April 10 through 12 and April 17 through 19 at Empire Polo Field in Indio.

TRASHed, by the by, stands for "Trash Education." Global Inheritance is the evening's host, so expect to learn a few things about the important causes they back.

Spend time getting an eyeful of the gallery-ready trash bins, too. We may rarely notice where we toss our stuff when we're not at home, taking only the time needed to see what materials to put in which can.

But the colorful receptacles of Coachella may make even the most absent-minded among us pause and look at an everyday object, and what it represents, in a fresh way.

Photo Credit: Global Initiative]]>
<![CDATA[World-Record Attempt in Hollywood: Largest Coupon]]> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:16:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/butteryjackcouponguinnessattempt.jpg

Keeping a stack of coupons held to your refrigerator door, courtesy of a strong magnet, has its pros and cons.

One potential con is you only ever seem to notice the very largest coupons in the stack, the ones that stick out, revealing their product. The ones you always grab when leaving the house to eat or shop.

Jack in the Box has that whole "notice this coupon" thing wrapped up for burger buffs, and they don't even need to put the money-saving piece of paper on the fridge door. It'll be displayed on the side of the W Hotel in Hollywood for a full day, and it will be a rather eye-catching 80 feet in length.

Even in this age of super-mondo-huge-o refrigerators, we're still thinking an 80-foot coupon will overlap the doors, just a bit. Probably would cover the whole kitchen, truly.

So what's the coupon for? It's redeemable for a buy one/get one Buttery Jack burger. Nope, you can't leave the W Hotel with an 80-footer of a coupon tucked under your arm, but you can take a photo of the colossal coupon and show the snapshot at any Jack in the Box in the country.

For sure, the Guinness World Records honchos are going to show up to eyeball the mammoth money-saver before it can be given the mantel of World's Largest Coupon. The whole shebang is kicking off at the Jack in the Box on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Cahuenga Avenue on Wednesday, March 25, just ahead of the coupon's unveiling outside the W Hotel. 

For sure, there shall be free Buttery Jacks there, given away in the parking lot of the W, and other celebrating-style goodies (DJ-spun tunes, a selfie station, you got it). 

For sure, there's a hashtag: #WorldsLargestCoupon.

For sure, you'll need to snap your pic on March 25. We live in a world where the coupons under the magnets on our refrigerator expire, and where 80-foot buy-one-get-one-free deals are only displayed at swanky Tinseltown hotels for so long.

Tick tock, coupon collectors and burger buffs. Tick tock.

Photo Credit: Jack in the Box]]>
<![CDATA[Ren Faire: Time to Shine That Suit of Armor]]> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 08:13:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/renfaire0291232.jpg

One of the rather marvelous elements of an outfit straight out of medieval times is how it sounds.

Not many of our modern togs are quite as audible as ye olden times clothing, and it is our loss, too. For think of all of those suits of armor that clanged, and the brassy chimes hidden in a dancer's diaphanous skirt, and the teeny tiny bells seen at the very tippy ends of a jester's two-toned hat.

The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire welcomes such easy-to-hear habiliments, and any clothing that is colorful, historic, fantasy-driven or simply outlandish. That means you still have time to sew bells onto your dress or shine up your clanking suit of armor before the huge festival's early-April opening day.

That opening day is always the first Saturday of the fourth month, so circle April 4 on the parchment you use as a calendar. The place? Nope, it isn't Northern England circa 1510; it's the Irwindale of 2015. That makes getting you and your bell-laden jester's hat up to the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area so much less of a challenge. 

It's doable, is what we're saying, sans a time machine.

Will you be warm on day #1? Mayhaps -- we'll be wrapping a heat wave, say those soothsayers that read the weather. But springtime and Ren Faire are old friends, and you'll find shade upon the many booths, places to eat, trees and spots to watch the merry doings. 

Those merry doings include jousts, aerial dancers, drummers, jugglers, jolly theatrics, madrigals performed live, cameos by the queen, the Mistress of Misrule and other character-filled characters. There shall be many vendors of the jewelry, oils, stone and wood goods and curiosity variety, too, in case you need further kitting for a future faire visit.

Cost? It's $28 for a day for an adult.  

When does it end? May 17. What days does it forsooth upon? Ren Faire shall forsooth upon the weekends from April 4 through May 17. Do you need time-travel-y togs to attend? You do not, good lady or gentleman. Are there themed weekends! Huzzah! (Yes.)

Had time to buff your chest plate, then? Good. The ruffs and tights'll be in full and glorious display in mere days, and whether your clothing makes sounds or not doesn't matter. All medieval-mad merrymakers are welcome. 

Photo Credit: Stephen Chopp]]>
<![CDATA[Happy New Year: Celebrate Nowruz at LACMA]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2015 08:01:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/zohrehjooyalacma.jpg

How the warming of the world around us is welcomed runs the joyful gamut from garden-based gatherings to al fresco meals to the exchanging of small gifts.

The first day of spring finds much festivity in Iran, where the vernal equinox coincides with Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. A grand and auspicious occasion, Nowruz features traditional foods, meaning-laden displays, songs, dance and fun for small revelers, too.

The Farhang Foundation and Los Angeles County Museum of Art honors Nowruz with a full day of free -- or mostly free -- happenings on Sunday, March 22.

Performer Zohreh Jooya's "The Sounds of a Persian Spring" debuts (it's the world premiere) at the Miracle Mile institution's Bing Theater at 11 a.m., which starts off the eight-hour celebration. Ms. Jooya's ensemble will join her on stage as well. Note this is one ticketed event of the day, so if you want to attend, definitely buy your spot in advance.

The accoladed singer's folk-fantastic songs and deep knowledge of the musical byways of Iran will bring out the fans (and make it a sold-out affair).

One more thing to keep some cash for: Traditional Persian bites from Patina chef Rui Wang will be sold as well.

As for the free doings? A decor-rich, symbol-filled Haft Sîn display, something seen frequently during Nowruz, will be erected, short films will screen and Persian dance and puppetry will take a centerstage. And a costume parade, traditionally one of the must-see moments of the annual LACMA festivity, is at 3 p.m.

Kiosk, the "groundbreaking Iranian rock band," rounds out the happy day with pumped-up tuneage from 5 to 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Zohreh Jooya]]>
<![CDATA[New Dog Menu: The Morrison's Woof-Worthy Dishes]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 16:31:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/morrisondogmenu1.jpg

Ever enjoy a bacon cheeseburger on a sunny patio of a Southern California restaurant? And did you have your pup with you, at your feet, lapping from a bowl of water kindly provided by the restaurant?

Then please raise your hand, now, if you never, ever sneaked your dog a bit of bacon.

There are no hands raised, we'll assume, because every hand belonging to every hound-adoring human has waved the under-the-table bacon strip at one time or another. 'Fess up, hands of SoCal. We know.

If only there was a menu just for dogs, you likely thought, then I could keep my bacon.

The Morrison wants you, and all pooch people — pro-poochists, if you prefer — to keep their bacon. The Los Feliz pub just introduced a special dog menu designed solely for their four-footed, furry-faced, tail-thumping guests.

Guests we'll assume are not picking up the check, so perhaps you, as the person in this equation, will need to discuss that first with your dog. (Hope this conversation isn't awkward.)

There are three selections on the dog menu priced at six bucks a pop. Where's the Beef? is chopped hamburger beef with rice, Cock-a-Doodle-Doo is chicken and rice, and Frannenweinie has, you betcha, hot dogs (chopped) and rice.

It's a wide range for a pup who probably sticks to the same foods on her home turf. You could visit three weekends in a row, giving your Pug or Mastiff the chance to place snout to supper on each selection, and let her decide her favorite.

But, honestly, everything is a dog's favorite, which is why we love them so. That bird, that Frisbee, that smell, this fallen bit of ham? ALL of those are a dog's favorite ALL THE TIME.

(Forgive the all-caps, but dogs are pretty much all-caps, constantly, right? Right.)

As for the bites for the diners actually eating off the table and not from a dish below it? Posh burgers are the theme, with fish tacos and steaks making cameos. And there's beer. Mucho craft beer straight from the taps.

We can only guess The Morrison's menu'll be a happy hit with the muttlies. And, of course, their people, who no longer have to do that hand-sneaky-under-the-table thing.

They can spoil their canine bud, full-on, just as long as the human involved knows his dog definitely is light in the wallet. And light on actually having a wallet, or pockets, or a purse, pretty much.

Ah, the Life Carefree. Dogs, you've got it made.

Photo Credit: The Morrison]]>
<![CDATA[Hello, Boysenberry Flautas: Knott's Boysenberry Fest]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 13:12:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/boysenberryfestknotts15.jpg

It's just polite, really, to arrive with a host or hostess gift when you travel to see a friend in another state.

You'll want to buy something regional, and edible, we're assuming, to show off your local pride. And while Southern California boasts many yummy, easily packable choices -- Philippe's mustard, Sriracha, and Graber's olives among them -- you'll likely go with boysenberry preserves if your pal is a breakfast person.

Also, if you go buy them at the source, you have the added benefit of maybe spending the day riding rides. Oh yeah.

Knott's Berry Farm and boysenberry go together like hot summer afternoons and roller coaster rides. Walter Knott is one of the big names behind the berry's twisty-as-a-vine tale, and he and his wife Cordelia Knott helped popularize the oh-so-tart palate-pleaser via preserves pies at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

It's a sweet 'n sticky story that sits as deep inside California's food history, as deep as a seed nestles inside a berry. So when the Buena Park theme park pauses to pay homage to its superstar fruit each spring, boysenberry buffs pause with them, hats doffed.

Well, there isn't too much pausing when there is much boysen-eating to be done. The Boysenberry Festival is going on at the park from March 28 through April 12, and the treats on the menu go well beyond breakfast staples -- think "fried cheese curds with a spicy boysenberry dipping sauce" and a "fish and chips sandwich with boysenberry tartar sauce."

Oh, and step back: There'll be a boysenberry ICEE, too.

That goes well with hot summer afternoons and roller coasters, right? Well, not while you're on the roller coaster, of course. Before and after.

Ribs, chicken, meats with boysenberry-lush touches, and, yes, boysenberry flautas are feastables during the festival, too. There are to-dos beyond noshing that include strolling Ghost Town, which will include boysenberry-themed cut-outs (that's fun to type) and other farm-interesting sights. 

And, yep: You can purchase your own boysenberry plant, too.

The fest is part of admission to the theme park, so, that's important.

And should we also stop to salute Rudolph Boysen, who got the whole berry-growing enterprise growing decades ago? We absolute should. Without Mr. Boysen's growing ingenuity, there'd be no boysen-empire today.

Should we come up with more host-gift choices for you, if your out-of-state friend likes breakfast? And you want to show with a SoCal-y treat? Well, there are many excellent foodstuffs made within the region, but a jar of boysenberry preserves is up their in the toast-spreadable pantheon of local goodies, for sure.

Just don't eat all of it during your visit, because your hosting friend may notice.

Photo Credit: Knott's Berry Farm]]>
<![CDATA[Fireworks at the Opera: "The Marriage of Figaro"]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 09:47:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/marriageoffigarocraigtmathewlaopera.jpg

Ask anyone who enjoys even an iota of social media involvement if we live in an age of hearsay and comic intrigue and revenge and misunderstood messages and rapid-fire showdowns (of the @-flavored sort) and the answer would be a big ol' resounding yes.

But none of those things, from  rumors to drama, are new to us, of course, though of course many a modern person believes everything interesting started with them. Look to "The Marriage of Figaro," an opera written in 1786 by Mozart, a composer who knew a thing or two about charged words, outlandish fame, delicious drama, and your basic hot intrigue.

You surely know Figaro -- surely -- who is one of the great funny fictional characters of the stage, the wiliest of servants who knows how to get what he wants (after several twists, turns, and misadventures).

And you know "The Marriage of Figaro" is a comedy, a love story, and boasts some of the best-loved and most recognizable refrains in all of opera.

So just try not to conduct along, with your index finger, at the LA Opera's production, which rounds out its trio of Figaro-focused shows. Roberto Tagliavini is Figaro, Pretty Yende is his paramour Susanna, and the over-the-top-ness of the staging is aided in its merry over-the-top-ness by a fireworksy finale.

Yes, fireworksy, as in made-for-the-theater pyrotechnics, inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It's a beautiful and rare on-stage sight, and perfectly attuned to some of the fireworksy shenanigans of the show. And, of course, the ultimate happy ending of the opera buffa.

"The Marriage of Figaro" rings the proverbial wedding bells six times, from March 21 through April 12. No gift is required, nor prepared speech, but you should RSVP -- er, buy your ticket -- and consider semi-formal attire. This is the opera, after all, and a wedding-themed opera at that.

One final thought: With Mozart's knack for unearthing human foibles and human desires in such satirical ways, we're only a little sorry that he never had a Twitter account, because how juicy would that have been?

As juicy as a fruit hanging from a tree under which two lovers meet for a secret assignation. And that's pretty juicy.

Photo Credit: Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging ]]>
<![CDATA["Bonnie and Clyde": New Hollywood on the Big Screen]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 18:45:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bonnieclydemillion.jpg

Lofty film criticism would not be lofty film criticism without the frequent suggestion, by the writer, that a particular movie was so different and so groundbreaking -- "groundbreaking" being one of the top ten lofty film criticism terms, of course — that it was set to change the course of how movies are made, forever.

Mostly? This is wishful thinking on the part of the reviewer, though their cinema-loving heart is in the right place. We want our films to go further, push envelopes, grow both we viewers and the industry, simultaneously.

"Bonnie and Clyde" actually did just that. The 1967 classic was at the feisty forefront of the New Hollywood movement, which saw leaner realism and stylish drama begin to replace the three-hour musicale extravaganzas, the sorts of lavish movies that had been Tinseltown's heavily sauced meat-and-potatoes only months beforehand.

You can see the famously stripped down, modern-aesthetic-y film, which marks its 50th in just a couple of years, on the big screen at the Million Dollar Theatre on Saturday, March 21. Alison Martino's Vintage LA, Grand Central Market, and the historic movie palace are in partnership on the showing, which will feature jazzy, vintage tunes from the California Feetwarmers ahead of the show.

Actor Michael J. Pollard will also be in attendance, and Ms. Martino shall chat with him about his production memories and time on set with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.

Grand Central Market and the Million Dollar Theatre, by the by, both suit the era of the film, or, actually, a decade or so before the early-1930s era of "Bonnie and Clyde." So grabbing a sinker or raft — old-school lingo for doughnuts and toast, of course — next door would help fit the feel of the film, or at least the time the film captures.

Tickets for the movie? They're ten bucks.

Writing lofty film criticism? We like it. After all, film fans should gently coax the medium they love from time to time. We're all on the same movie-loving path here.

Adoring three-hour musicale extravaganzas? So very a-okay. A fan can like both New Hollywood and Old Hollywood showstoppers, the kind that used to have an intermission in the middle.

Sinkers and rafts? Why don't we still use diner lingo nowadays?

Wearing a beret to the screening, or fedora? Up to you, but please kindly remove your chapeau when it's curtains-up.

What's the next New Hollywood? Anyone's guess, but larger movie trends do evolve and change, from time to time.

Perhaps the next phase for film these days will be something that falls between the blockbuster and the indie. Remember when middle-budget movies ruled? Studios, we're gently coaxing here, if we might, before we jump in our Model T and peel out.

Photo Credit: Bonnie and Clyde]]>
<![CDATA[Friday's Packed: Spring, Solar Eclipse, Super Moon...]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 13:01:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/224*120/rosegetty1234moons1.jpg

Do you remember, lo about the start of the year, when your social media feeds and your email inbox and your magazines were full of lists suggesting how you could make 2015 the most efficient, easily managed year yet?

No more overwhelming to-do lists, no more conflicting commitments, just easier days ahead.

Clearly our holidays and special occasions and astronomical happenings and the seasons themselves are on these same social media feeds. For not only did Friday the 13th, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, and Mardi Gras all converge in February -- with a similar, looser thing occurring between Friday the 13th and St. Patrick's Day over the second weekend of March -- but spring, the moon, and the sun have a lot planned over a single day.

That single day is Friday, March 20, 2015, which, in the annals of future legend, may henceforth be referred to as the official observance of SpringSolarEclipseSuperMoonia.

It's a mouthful, but pretty accurate: The vernal equinox falls on March 20, as does a Super Moon, as does a solar eclipse, an event that will be seen in full in Norway and partially in parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Nope, Southern California did not make that look-up-in-wonder list, but if you still need to mark the moment -- when you're not watching live feeds of the eclipse online -- Griffith Observatory will be open, and, as always, free.

Again, no solar eclipse to see in our SoCal skies, but plenty to learn about the cosmos, which, rumor has it, are rather on the large side.

As for communing with the spritely season of robins and bluebells? Or, more accurately, at least around this region, gulls and jacaranda? Any of our big gardens will do the trick, from the LA Arboretum to The Huntington. Descanso Gardens of La Cañada Flintridge is throwing a festival in honor of its cherry blossoms on March 21 and 22, and everybody knows that there's nothing springier than a cherry blossom.

Let's not argue about this one. 

In fact, we'd turn to science to back us up on that cherry blossoms=springtime claim, but science has its hands full with Super Moons and solar eclipses these days. 

Stay busy, science.

So what's next on the everything-all-at-once calendar? Perhaps 2015 really will prove to be more efficient than most. If only we humans could follow suit.

Photo Credit: Getty, Shutterstock, Super Moon]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: CicLAvia Bikes the Valley]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 11:54:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ciclaviasouthlaleroyhamilton.jpg

CicLAvia: The close-the-big-streets, everyone-on-their-bikes event has been around Los Angeles since 2010, but this is its first foray into the Valley. Where shall it go? Well, NoHo, you might have guessed (look for lots of lively doings along Lankershim) and Ventura Boulevard. Booths, entertainments, social sidewalk happenings, and a new aural story-sharing app are all of a part of the Sunday, March 22 ride. Do tens of thousands of people really show up? They do. Should you avoid Ventura through Studio City and the NoHo nexus if you're driving on Sunday? You should.

Nowruz Celebration: Welcome the start of the Iranian New Year at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with dance performances, stirring live music and "The Sounds of a Persian Spring," a world premiere at the Miracle Mile institution's Bing Theater. Tickets are separate for this event, but the 3 p.m. parade and other happenings around the campus are free. Iranian rock band Kiosk plays at 5 p.m. and "Persian-inspired cuisine" shall be for sale. Sunday, March 22

Spring's Start: The honoring of the seasons, when we reach a season's doorway, can be as elaborate as a fine meal or party or as simple as being with nature. You can find the spirit of both at Descanso Gardens, where the cherry blossoms are turning the 160-acre plot into a colorful swath of pink and white. A festival is on to honor the flowers all weekend long, and origami and food for sale are part of the party, too. Or you can slip into the green, along a walkway, and just connect with the trees. March 21 and 22 are your dates to make a date with spring.

"Bonnie and Clyde" on the Big Screen: Some bemoan that the gears of Hollywood turn too slowly, but this 1967 film was a sign that cinema was undergoing some fast and profound changes. Alison Martino's Vintage LA hosts the Million Dollar Theatre screening, and Grand Central Market next door lends some hosting love, too (you can grab a bit there beforehand). And who is set to chat just before the theater goes dark? Why actor Michael J. Pollard, who will join Ms. Martino on stage. Saturday, March 21

LA County Air Show: The skies above Lancaster shall brim with planes aplenty on March 21 and 22 at Fox Airfield. Shield your eyes or put on the sunglasses and watch feats of derring-do from the USAF Thunderbirds Jet Demonstration Team, the Big Biplane Solo from Gene Soucy Airshows, and more high-in-the-air fliers. Want to spy things not in flight? Look for STEM displays on the ground from a host of big-name airplane and engineer-mighty companies.

Photo Credit: Leroy Hamilton]]>
<![CDATA[The Sippable Sawtelle: Cocktail Monikers Go Local]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 04:57:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Sawtellecocktail.jpg

Angelenos are used to seeing the names of our well-known boulevards and streets on posters, T-shirts, and in the background of television commercials, but it less common to spy them on a beverage menu.

Less common, perhaps, but still charming, especially if the street in question happens to be in your neighborhood or the drink uses ingredients you favor.

The Independence, which debuted in Santa Monica at the beginning of February, has such locally monikered sips, including The Sawtelle, which includes citroen vodka, fresh kumquats and blood orange, honey-ginger syrup, and lime bitters. As for The Palms? Look for — or taste for, rather — cilantro, white grape juice sans the seeds, sparkling wine, fresh lime, and elderflower liqueur.

And The Bundy? That's the sweeter selection, made sweeter still by chocolate ice cream. The libation component? It's almond liqueur and orange bitters.

Maestro of the Shakers is Vincenzo Marianella, who has created and burnished beverages from Valentino to Providence. Look for Mr. Marianella's Market Menu cocktails. Order one and you may find what's in your glass well-herbed or quite jammy. (Jam seems a most excellent sweetener for a sip needing more oomph.)

Your designated driver will want to try the glass-bound creations as well, so direct your pal to Marianella-created sips that include local fruits and veges but skip the spirits. Ginger beer, coconut water, and more flavorful and alcohol-free additions lend the kick.

As for the food? Think posh tavern tastes, with a solid sea food section and bar bites such as a hangar steak skewer with chimichurri sauce. As for the location? Catch the Big Blue Bus for Second and Broadway.

As for whether you'll see your street on a commercial or T-shirt? Give it time: SoCal boulevards have a way of finding stardom, eventually, like so many other things in this town.

Photo Credit: The Independence]]>
<![CDATA[Brokechella: Jam Out for Little Cashola]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:42:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/brokechelladance12345.jpg

It's 'round about now that the thousands upon thousands of people who are planning on attending the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are saying sentences that begin with the words "a month from today ..."

"A month from today we'll be listening front row for Jack White" or "a month from today we'll be by the motel pool" or "a month from today we'll be looking for meeting each other at whatever outlandish sculpture we pick as our we-got-lost meet point."

People going to Brokechella, however, have a different "month from today" outlook. For sure, the window of time is the same: The in-city cheapo concert festival is on Saturday, April 18, which is the second Saturday of the desert extravaganza it so cheekily hails in its name. Or at least the second half of its name. 

But Brokechella is just fifteen bucks, if you buy your ticket early, and you don't need to find a place to camp around Indio, or an aunt's couch. Your "a month from today ..." is all about keeping cash in the wallet and grooving to good tunes while soaking in the sunshine.

Temperatures, also, may be on the cooler side in downtown LA, it is very likely.

If you think that Brokechella, though, is the only event there ending in -chella, well, au contraire: Puppychella is part of Brokechella, so look for sweet furry friends on the concert grounds (No Kill Los Angeles will be hosting the hound-themed happiness). 

So there's your "a month from today ..." Brokechella people. On April 18 you'll be Metroing it downtown, getting a beer or soda, dancing to tunes, and petting puppies. 

We're not saying you shouldn't see your aunt that night, or ask to crash on her couch, because we know you'd love to see her and she you. We're just saying your springtime concert choices include an in-town happening for not a lot of bucks. Plus puppies.

Photo Credit: Brokechella]]>
<![CDATA[Incognito: Buy a Painting Without Knowing the Artist]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 07:35:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/Cover-image-INCOG-2014-postcard.jpg

Many a painter has taken brush to canvas -- shoe canvas -- over the years. 

It isn't all that strange to see a pair of sneaks done up in bold strokes, and to see an art-big price tag to match. And while you don't need to locate a pair of running shoes painted by a famous artist to attend the Santa Monica Museum of Art's 11th annual Incognito, we do recommend that you find shoes you can move quickly in.

Very quickly.

Why? Incognito is just about the only gallery event where you'll see art lovers darting, dashing, and moving far more quickly than museum guards typically allow. Because Incognito is about finding a painting you connect with, staking your claim before anybody else can, and all without knowing who painted the painting you're purchasing.

Oh, there's the twist: None of the 700+ colorful, abstract, portrait-interesting, and offbeat canvases on display reveal, on the front or on the wall nearby, the artist's name. Which means you could plunk down your cash and find you've bought a fantastic emerging artist or, just perhaps, a big-name painter who has shown in some of the planet's best-known museums.

So where's the artist's signature? On the back of the painting.

Call it an artistic gamble where everyone wins, though whether the winning is more about finding an artist you love or discovering you now are a collector of a major-leaguer is up to your definition.

All the paintings are 10 x 10 inches and they're all priced at $375 plus tax.

Tickets are on sale now for the Saturday, May 2 happening, where not everyone will be in running shoes. It's a rather stylish affair, but count on some eager art lovers going the rubber sole route, for sure.

Nabbing the perfect painting, either because you simply love it or you're just sure an artist you'd love to collect, but could never dream of collecting, painted it, is part of the lively spirit of the night. 

Photo Credit: Santa Monica Museum of Art]]>
<![CDATA[Moving Sale: LA Opera Costume Shop ]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 15:16:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/CostumeSale15la.jpg

No one but no one would give you the side eye if you were to don a purple-pastel Marie Antoinette-style wig and hoop skirt and walk down most any street in Los Angeles.

After all we don't bat a single eyelash, nor cast one judging look, when we see Iron Man or Charlie Chaplin walk down Hollywood Boulevard. Southern California is a city that holds costuming close to its look-at-me heart, and the Los Angeles Opera has long been at the forefront of that fashion-fun fabulousness.

So when the opera lines up rack after rack of harlequin-appropriate breeches, royal ruffs, courtier costumes, and other outfits worn by characters on the grand stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, any SoCaler who leans dressy gets pretty dang jazzed. And dresser-uppers about town'll be plenty jazzed on Saturday, March 28 when the LA Opera Costume Shop hosts a moving sale.

Hmm. Maybe we don't mean "jazzed" so much as "aria'd." That works.

The shop, which is plum-full of plummage-y capes and dresses and bits and bobs, is leaving 330 S. Alameda Street, its "longtime home," and headed for another capacious space in the area. This means that you, dear devotee of theatre-ready togs, win. Well, you win if you make for the sale, which is on for but a day.

"Over 1,000 costumes on 90 racks" will roll out, so look for "handcrafted hats, uniquely designed shoes, numerous masks" and other accoutrements of an eye-catching nature. As for the prices? They start at two dollars, on the accessories table, and push towards $650 for "complete costumes."

And, yes, there is a Diva Rack, where the outfits worn by opera luminaries may be found, cooed over, and possibly purchased, if you have the diva-style dough.

While a two-buck fashion find sounds fun, we do dream of strolling down Sepulveda or Beverly in a complete opera costume. Maybe not during a heat wave, but on a cool, foggy, June Gloom day? We'd consider it.

As would many a costume-loving SoCaler. 

Photo Credit: LA Opera]]>
<![CDATA[Erin Go SoCal: Your St. Patrick's Day Parties]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 05:11:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/caseysirishpub213nightlife.jpg

Whether you have a spray of shamrocks woven into your hair or not -- or you're just wearing a ginormous green bow tie -- you can find your celebratory St. Patrick's Day outing around Southern California on Tuesday, March 17. There are the pubs and taverns, yes, but there is also...

Pershing Square: The downtown meet spot has hosted Erin-Go-Bragh-ian high jinks for years, and, as is tradition, those doings don't come with a dollar amount. Aye, the party is free, and it has an earlier time than most of the indoor St. Paddy's gatherings: 10:30 a.m.. A parade starts it all off -- City Councilmember Tom LaBonge is a host and the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums will be in attendance -- and Swagger'll keep the sound a-rockin', Celtic-style, into the noontime hour. Food trucks'll be there, too, into the early afternoon.

Tom Bergin's: If you think that an old-time traditional pub that has a neon shamrock outside, year-round, one that says "House of Irish Coffee," will throw what is, pretty much, a day-long party in honor of St. Patrick's Day, you'd be 100% correct. The day-long party is actually 22 hours -- we'll call that day-long, for sure -- and runs from 6 a.m. on March 17 to 2 a.m. on March 18. A band, a DJ, "Irish-inspired cocktail," and a full-on Guinness truck up the on-Fairfax festiveness.

Casey's Irish Pub: A post on Facebook pretty much sets the convivial scene: "460 kegs of beer and 100 cases of Jameson just made it into #CaseysIrishPub!" Like Tom Bergin's, the bash heats up in the wee smalls ("wee smalls"=6 a.m) with the street festival revving at 11 a.m. You're also close enough to the Pershing Square celebration if you want to take in both (and, of course, Metro is right there). 

The Original Farmers Market: Magee's Kitchen has the longtime, been-around-for-decades cred that one looks for in a traditional St. Patrick's Day happening -- heck, Farmers Market, the meat-and-more counter's home, does, too -- and it also has corned beef and cabbage and lots of it. Follow the people in green to the foodie favorite, and stay for live tunes, too. Just don't forget the horseradish, something Magee's has perfected over the years.

Tam O'Shanter: Over the hills and through the dell and to Atwater Village you may go, to find another pub-y party of St. Patrick's-big proportions. One of the oldest restaurants in all of SoCal welcomes The Ploughboys on March 17, and Whiskey Sunday, too. As is the case with other raise-a-pint parties, the parking lot will be host a lot of the shenanigans. And will there be Bailey's cupcakes, too, in addition to the large beer selection? We'll have three, please.

Photo Credit: 213 Nightlife]]>
<![CDATA[Poppies v. Heat: The Find-Those-Flowers Update]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 18:30:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/poppiesantelope9992.jpg

Flowers like sunshine, of course, but, quite clearly, there's a limit to all good things.

While the beaches bustled and swimming pools filled up over the second weekend of March the namesake blossoms of Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve struggled under the swelter. What looked like a healthy showing of our state flower only a week ago was flattened, in some areas, by the extremely high temperatures.

"We're astonished to find that our big bloom of desert-adapted, ruggedly persistent poppies has all but cooked away by the heat we've had over the last week," says a March 15 post on the reserve's Facebook page, which cited "desiccated poppy petals" where the "densest poppy germination anyone's seen in a decade" had taken hold.

Be strong, poppy people, because not only does the reserve say "all is not lost!" but fans have weighed in with places they're still seeing other flowers, and, yes, poppies, in strong profusion.  

West of Quartz Hill and the north slopes of the reserve are still seeing some stem-and-petal action. Think "goldfields, forget-me-nots, gold cups, cream cups, owl's clover, and lupine" among the lovely bloomage.

If you're going to get out to enjoy the springtime show, best don't delay, though, and keep an eye on the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve social media sites, which are keeping poppyists, and lovers of all flowers, updated on what is happening weather- and bloom-wise.

The post about the heat does conclude on an upbeat note: If more rain arrives, and puts a jump on it, more poppies could be seen. C'mon rain -- the poppies and their public need you.

Photo Credit: Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve]]>
<![CDATA[Corned Beef Central: Magee's at Farmers Market]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 16:09:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/mageescornedplate12345.jpg

The wonder, and the problem, with a small, knobby, well-cooked potato is that it is so easily speared by a fork.

This makes is rather marvelous for the eater facing a full plate of corned beef, a hunk of cabbage, and a couple of boiled potatoes backed by a side of mustard and a side of horseradish. The problem arises when the forks of the eater's friends easily spear the potatoes in question, because they've run out of potatoes on their own corned beef plates.

Mavens of Magee's Kitchen know this issue all too well. The cheerful meats-plus counter, which holds the proud title of being the original restaurant at the Original Farmers Market, is famous for its corned beef plate, which boasts all of the ingredients listed above.

It's a plate that sees a lot of play throughout the year, but on St. Patrick's Day most of all, when queues around the quaint Market meatery get deep and very, very green (green in dress, that is). 

People don't mind waiting for the classic dish, though; there's jig-sweet music to enjoy in the landmark public market, and usually some shiny emerald decorations hither and yon, too.

And all of that corned beefy goodness. Which leads to the question: Do you need a bite of potato for every bite of corned beef? And if your friends run out of potatoes first, will they, and their forks, come looking for yours?

It's a distinct possibility, though some horseradish fans would claim you need to make your mustard, and horseradish, last as long as the piece of meat on your plate.

Oh, portions. It's one of the not-to-challenging challenges of St. Patrick's Day, a holiday famous for green beer but also achieving that perfect bite of corned beef, stacked with a sliver of cabbage, bit of potato, and classic condiments.

Can you time out your bites just so? Find out at Magee's Kitchen any day of the year, though St. Patrick's Day is the traditional day of corned beef + potato perfect-portioning. 

Photo Credit: Magee's Kitchen]]>
<![CDATA[Petal Profusion: Descanso Cherry Blossom Fest]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:19:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/cherrieblossomsdescansomarch21.jpg

There are many sweet discoveries associated with being a kid, like the fact that hamburgers don't contain ham, pigs don't speak Pig Latin and cherry blossoms are not the color of cherries.

But to compare the flower at the heart of this last example in a negative way to the redness of a ripe cherry does a disservice to the delicate nature of the cherry blossom, which is now in showy bloom atop trees around Southern California (trees, of course, able to produce cherry blossoms; don't look for them on palms or jacarandas, it goes without saying).

Descanso Gardens is home to many a blossom-bedecked tree. And like its wintertime camellias, flowers that made a stunning stand a few weeks back, and its tulips (which are now wrapping up their picture-worthy run), Descanso is a March-time destination for those who adore the pinky-white-yellowness of the cherry blossom.

Those blossoms shall be honored on Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, at the La Cañada Flintridge 160-acre spread. 

Shall cherry trees be sold? Yes.

Shall there be origami sessions? Artists practicing the ancient folding technique have often looked to cherry blossoms for inspiration.

Will there be cherry blossom walks and talks? For sure. How long has it been since your last contemplative, learn-about-nature stroll?

Admission to Descanso gets you into the Cherry Blossom Festival, which will also include live music and specially prepared food for sale. 

After your gazing-up, go-deep-within wanderings through the sunny spread, and your springtime appreciation of one of the season's sweetest symbols, will you finally be able to describe the cherry blossom's hue? Is it white, cream, pink, rosy? With, of course, a touch of yellow, courtesy of it stamens?

It was just fine, to find out, when we were kids, that cherry blossoms are not the color of cherries. Red works well for the fruit, while a bewitching combination of several shades is what makes the cherry blossom so very alluring.

Photo Credit: Descanso Gardens]]>
<![CDATA[Free Dairy Queen Cones, and More Free Treats]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 08:15:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

Spring is right around the corner, and what tastier way to start it than with ice cream — or Italian ice?

Dairy Queen is giving away free ice cream cones Monday to celebrate its 75th anniversary Monday, just a few days before spring officially begins.

Customers can stop at any participating location to get a small vanilla soft-serve cone with the signature curl on the top. The ice cream chain is also asking for donations for kids at children's hospitals during its free cone day.

Then, on Friday, Rita's Italian Ice will kick off the first day of spring with an Italian ice giveaway — a tradition that has been going on for 23 years.

The company says it gave away more than 1.2 million cups of its Italian ice last year. Click here to find the nearest location.

And next month, Ben & Jerry's will be giving away ice cream on its Free Cone Day on April 14. Find the nearest franchise here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dairy Queen Free Cone Day]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 08:41:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/dairyqueenfreeconedaymarch16.jpg

So many intriguing mysteries surround a certain longtime purveyor of cold treats that we hardly know where to begin our story.

1. Does Dairy Queen have an actual throne, castle, and courtiers who wear velvet breeches and play trumpets?

2. How does one get to be known far and wide by just their initials -- in Dairy Queen's case, the snappy and now-iconic "DQ" -- in a world flooded by attention-catching foodstuffs and restaurant choices?

3. What will the founded-in-Illinois company do for its big 75th, which falls in 2015?

We know the answer to that one, as do the people you'll see queuing up at participating Dairy Queens across the land on Monday, March 16. The frozen treat shop, founded in 1940 near Chicago, will celebrate by handing out soft-serve vanilla cones on Free Cone Day at all participating Dairy Queens.

There are more fun things to come during Dairy Queen's diamond anniversary year, but bet Free Cone Day will be mighty popular, especially around Southern California, where a March heat wave is putting ice cream lovers in an ice cream state of mind.

Oh, we jest; true ice cream lovers maintain a permanent second address in that state.

So is there a hashtag for all of this frosty fun? It wouldn't be #2015 if there wasn't: #conewithme is your go-to, social media enjoyers.

Is there a limit on how many cones you can pick up? Of course there is: You may have one. You'd cock an eyebrow at the person leaving with twenty free cones in front of you, wouldn't you? Fairness is best in all things, including Free Cone Day.

And one more mystery we'd like to solve while we're delving into all things DQ: How does the vanilla soft-serve cone get that perfect little twirl on the top? And how does one recreate that in a hairstyle? Asking, of course, for a friend.

Photo Credit: Dairy Queen]]>
<![CDATA[Cinderella's Glass Slipper Seen in Hollywood]]> Sat, 14 Mar 2015 08:01:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cinderellaglassslipperelcap.jpg

No matter how many times you dig through the closet or peek under the bed in a vain search for your missing running shoe or sandal, you will never, ever face the footwear-themed frenzy faced by a certain young lady named Cinderella.

The fairy-tale icon lost her iconic glass slipper while dashing from a palace, which, really, is not where one wants to accidentally leave a shoe. Backdoor-adjacent: good. Grand staircase: drama shall brew.

Those enchanted by storydom's most famous shoe are in luck, however: The slipper has been seen in Hollywood, at the El Capitan Theatre, where it is currently on display with other props from the Disney's new live-action film (starring Lily James as the title lass and Cate Blanchett has the deliciously divine stepmother.)

The slipper boasts the crystal-shiny style of a cut gem and has some real-world pedigree fit for a palatial party: Swarovski partnered with costume designer Sandy Powell on the look of the story's most pivotal bit of costuming.

We wouldn't dare dream of a spoiler here, as to how Cinderella is or is not reunited with her shoe, but let us hope the kind heroine has a better time of it than many of us do as we dash about looking for our favorite sneaks or heels.

As for the other treats that the Disney-helmed cinema has in store? Look for "an immersive light and projection show" and, yes, a short before the film called "Frozen Fever." (Surely you remember "Frozen," the animated film that debuted in November 2013?)

We jest, Olaf-style. The heat of "Frozen" continues to be as hot as a lovable snowman is cold, and the sweet song from the short began making the online rounds on opening day.

It's a big time for fairy tale fans, and that big time lasts through April 16 at the El Cap. Should you wear your own glass slippers, if you have 'em, to a screening? Well, why not? Just take care not to squish any popcorn kernels or leave your shoe on a Walk of Fame star while dashing along Hollywood Boulevard. 

Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises]]>
<![CDATA[Lucky $13: St. Pat's + Friday the 13th Eat Deal]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 19:26:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/stirmarketlucky13.jpg

If you're a bit of a holiday maven, and you found yourself in the swing of not one, not two, not three but a full four holidays and/or observances in the middle of February, well, we quite understand if you're still recovering.

After all, that Friday the 13th, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, and Mardi Gras convergence that happened in smack in the center of the month tuckered out plenty of people intent on going the whole spooky/sweet/historic/bead-throwing route.

But a second convergence is at hand, holidayists. Yep, Friday the 13th is involved, as it usually is in March if February had its own Friday the 13th, and St. Patrick's Day, which, as usual, jigs it up on March 17 (a Tuesday in 2015).

Both days have a lot to with luck -- some iffy, some spiffy, if you know these two days well -- and Stir Market, the opened-last-year food-hall-esque restaurant on Beverly Boulevard, has taken note.

What does this mean, exactly? Nope, there shall not be ladders you have to walk beneath while wearing all green. Rather, Stir Market has several food and beverage deals that are running between the two luck-oriented holidays. And the price? Thirteen bucks, of course.

Get a European beer flight for $13 -- it includes Duvel, Ommegang, and Brasserie d'Achouffe -- or go for an Irish cheese board, a selection that comes complete with homemade multigrain Irish soda bread.

The cost? You got it: $13 is the lucky number. 

It's not the most typical of holiday meet-ups, no sirree. For one, one never knows where Friday the 13th may pop up on the calendar, and it isn't always alongside its cousin-in-matters-of-luck, St. Patrick's Day. 

But it is one that works, thematically. Luck is the banner idea, and we refuse to go in on the idea that Friday the 13th is solely about stinky fortune. Many people call it a favorite day, and who can disagree when fancy beer flights and posh cheese boards can be had for thirteen lucky dollars?

May this double-holiday luck extend to your Final Four team, or whatever merry, luck-needing doings the weeks ahead shall bring.

Photo Credit: Stir Market]]>
<![CDATA[Poppies Are Popping: Antelope Valley and Beyond]]> Sat, 14 Mar 2015 11:08:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/poppiesantelope2015.jpg Our state flower is making an orange-y show at its namesake preserve.

Photo Credit: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve]]>
<![CDATA[Where to Watch the ASICS LA Marathon]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 20:20:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mile21marathon1234.jpg

Where a spectator decides to perch alongside the route of a major marathon says as much about the marathon's extracurricular activities as the person who wants to come out to watch the pavement-poundary.

Let us also add "easy to get there and park" to the spectating stew, too. And if the spectator has a participating pal, there needs to be the pre-agreement as to where the spectator will be, so the runner can be on the lookout.

Decisions, and so forth. Good to know that the ASICS LA Marathon, which wends through a large swath of the city on Sunday, March 15, is untangling some of these just-wanna-watch issues for the non-runners out there. Check out the extensive course entertainment listings, which details mile-by-mile, and neighborhood-by-neighborhood, what bands and DJs shall be a-rockin', a-singin', a-spinnin', and their respective genres.

Cheer Alley will once again raise the pom-poms high at Mile 18, so if you're a chant, whoop-whoop, shout-it-loud kind of marathon booster, head for the spot where the marathon wends out of Beverly Hills. 

You might hear it in advance: Over 600 cheerleaders from around Southern California will be in extreme encouragement mode. Who says a spectator can't bask in some of that vocal optimism?

And Mile 21 will be the colorful province of The Hirshberg Foundation's Purple People Cheer Station, which is raising awareness about pancreatic cancer.

As for the distinctive areas the Stadium-to-the-Sea happening rolls through? Echo Park, Sunset Strip, and Century City are all represented, and marathon organizers have the rundown of what runners and spectators will see. Angelenos, you surely know your Silver Lake from your Santa Monica, but a little tourist-style brushing-up, before your tour-by-tennies, is a fine idea.

It's also a smart way for spectators to choose their spot. And once that spot is chosen, there are parking spots to consider, or, perhaps where Metro stops. Just don't forget the posterboard with your friend's name on it, written large, in sparkly markers. 

Photo Credit: Angela Daves Haley]]>
<![CDATA[Delicious Math: Here Comes Pi/Pie Day]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 08:32:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/PiDayCaramelAppleHandPiesMagnoliaBakery.jpg

Pretty much every holiday provides its celebrants multiple paths to honor the occasion, and while traditions hold fast, people very often find quirky and individual ways to mark the moment.

But March 14's two traditions could not be more disparate, at first glance. On the one hand you have those merrymakers clutching chalk or pencils with erasers while the other holidayists hold a fork. That's because the 14th day of the third month is Pi Day -- as in, 3/14, or the first three numbers found in pi, "the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter."

You can spend March 14 writing out all of the numbers of pi, which is a very scholarly away to approach the day, or you can celebrate by eating pie, because now the holiday has transformed, cheekily, into a party for the other pie, the one with the "e" on the end. (The mathematical constant pi assuredly does not have an "e" on the end, being famously as long as forever.)

People wielding both chalk and fork on March 14? We salute you. And while we're fairly sure you'll know where to find the nearest chalkboard or piece of paper to math-it-up, merrily, you may want to go for a slice of pie later at a SoCal favorite like...

Magnolia Bakery: The West Third Street cupcakery-and-more will pay homage to the mathily delicious day with caramel apple hand pies. The price? They're $3.50 each, which is pretty close to $3.14, and you get the added benefit of bragging all day that you ate a hand pie. Because? Hand pie sounds so much more saucy than just pie-pie. (Love you, pie-pie.)

Simple Things Restaurant: It's nearly Magnolia's neighbor on West Third, with two other locations -- hello Burbank and Westwood -- and it knows pies ("pie shop" is actually in the boutique chain's very name). The Tortoise Pie with the pretzel cookie crust is a charmer, as are the savory pies like steak & lager. Oh, yes, and chicken, too.

The Pie Hole: Pasadena's pie-cool spot (which has an outpost at LAX) is known for its offbeat flavors, or, if they're not offbeat, bet you won't find them in too many spots. Earl Grey pie and a Chorizo Breakfast hand pie are two sweet-to-savory stand-outs. Wouldn't Earl Grey pie just hit the spot before a flight? Yes, it would, if you're used to tea on the run.

Photo Credit: Magnolia Bakery]]>
<![CDATA[Bunker Hill: Time Travel to Downtown's Early Days]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:05:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/castleunion2bunker.jpg

April Fools' Day is on fast approach, which means that people who like to fun their friends -- "fun" as in rib or josh or leg-pull — are looking for that ideal joke.

And if you were to tell an out-of-towner, while driving up Grand Avenue, or Olive Street, that the immediate area once flowered with ornate Victorian mansions and not mega skyscrapers, your visitor would have a hard time buying it, if they weren't up-to-date on LA's fabled Bunker Hill.

It's no joke, though. Few neighborhoods anywhere go through such dramatic, top-to-bedrock transformations in such short windows of time, but Bunker Hill seemed to live a millennium in a century.

That transformation, and the politics and personal tales and architectural brouhahas that went with it, will be considered at The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday afternoon, March 15. "Bunker Hill Revisited," an hourlong lookback at the storied slice of downtown, will screen, and architectural historian Nathan Marsak will chat about the powerful plates that shifted for the neighborhood, and are still shifting.

Is it true that Bunker Hill was a "hotbed for sin and vice" several decades back? Well, there are tales, some tall as the buildings that occupy the footprints once held by sizable estates. But, for sure, much of LA's homegrown genre — that would be noir, you betcha — found its rough-and-tumble roots atop one of the highest places in downtown.

Angel's Flight is one of the picturesque artifacts of that age, and the famous funicular railway stars in an eponymous film that'll also screen alongside the Bunker Hill documentary. But "Angel's Flight," which turns 50 this year, is a fictional work filled with straight-talking characters, tough types who went to the Noir-Approved Academy of Take No Guff.

Many Angelenos work in an office in Bunker Hill; they're plentiful. And SoCalers regularly call upon the museums and restaurants. If you've been Bunkering but aren't up on the fast reformation of this part of downtown, best brush up.

You have to impress your out-of-towners, after all, and be ready to quiz them. So true or false: Just a century ago, this corner of LA was dotted with Victorian houses and not sky-high buildings. (Answer: true.)

Photo Credit: Art Deco Society of Los Angeles/American Cinematheque]]>
<![CDATA[Raunchy Game Cards Against Humanity Hits the Web With Free App]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 09:41:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/51RD-Lha01L._SL1023_.jpg

Oh the humanity! Cards Against Humanity has gone digital.

A new website called CardsAgainstOriginality.com offers a free version of the game on all web browsers on computers and mobile devices, though it wasn't made by the card game's original creators.

The Cards Against Originality app was created by Canadian designer Dawson Whitfield, who used the card game’s Creative Commons license to make a digital version.

Previously, users needed to either purchase the game for $25 from the Cards Against Humanity Website, or download and print their own deck for free (plus the cost of ink and paper). Fans can also purchase desired expansion packs on the game's website, and those cards are also featured in the new app.

"I built it because there were too many times that I wished I had brought my CAH deck. During lunch at work, at the bar, in the car," Whitfield said in an email. "Once I had the idea to build it, I had to build it out of frustration that no one had done it,"

According to Cards Against Humanity's website, the game's content can be used "to make whatever," but the game needs to be given credit and the user can't profit from using its content.

“Cards Against Humanity is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. That means you can use, remix, and share the game for free, but you can’t sell it without our permission. Please do not steal our name or we will smash you,” the game’s website reads.

Cards Against Humanity, described as a “party game for horrible people,” involves a group of players using raunchy and often expletive-filled white cards to answer questions or fill in the blanks of a single black card. The funniest answer is then picked by a fellow player acting as the judge, or “Card Czar.”

Like with the physical deck, you must be in the same room as your friends to play together on the digital version.

Whitfield said the response to his app was better than he expected — the rush to play even created some problems for the new product.

"I didn't expect it to take off like this and my servers couldn't handle the traffic," he told NBCChicago in an email. "I had it on a measly server for my friends and I to play on, which crumbled under the traffic."

Whitefield said he has since moved the game to new servers and the site is back up and running, though it may take time for the change to appear "everywhere around the world." 

Now, with a new name and the same vulgar cards, the (horribly inappropriate) party can begin online. 

<![CDATA[Weekend: ASICS Los Angeles Marathon]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:26:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lamarathon477426883.jpg

ASICS LOS ANGELES MARATHON: The mondo marathon weekend is starting in a Los Angeles-sized way, with a line of giant, skyward beams, courtesy of title sponsor ASICS, along the Stadium to Sea route. That's on Friday, March 13, but the big run pavement-pounds on Sunday, March 15. Dodger Stadium is the beginning, the Pacific Ocean is the finish, and thousands of you-go-ers shall line the route, cheering for thousands of people running their first or 30th LA Marathon. Three decades of world-class runmanship? That's worth finding some curb to commemorate.

PIE DAY: There's no holiday that's about trigonometry and truffles, the chocolate kind, as far as we know of, but there is a just-before-springtime occasion devoted to pi, as in the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and pie, as in the fruit-or-cream-or-more dessert folded into a tender pastry crust. It's March 14, every year, or 3/14, the first three numbers of pi. Claremont is celebrating with an apron parade, a pie eating contest, pie tastings, and everything sweet. If you want to haul along a portable blackboard, to show attendees your pi-related knowledge, well, that's probably cool. It's Pi Day, too.

ARTNIGHT PASADENA: A museum will waive admission now and then — so kind — and so will a gallery or cultural center. But for a full-on caboodle to go fee-free, for a night, and to have 'em all be in one historic slice of an age-old city, and to then throw in gratis music performances, surprising pop-up-style sights, and other brain-burnishing goodness? Well it must be this every-so-often free party that runs from the Armory Center for the Arts to smart spots around the Crown City. Will food trucks be around, too? We both know the appetizing answer to that. Friday, March 13

SIERRA MADRE WISTARIA FESTIVAL: Not every backyard has a plant that's made the Guinness Book of World Records, but a foothills-snug yard in Sierra Madre can make that claim. Make that two backyards, big backyards, where the World's Largest Flowering Plant grows. Grows a lot — it is well over 250 tons, and forges ahead several inches a day, or so it is said. Which is saying something: The famous wistaria has been purpling up that very spot since the late 1800s. Whoa, right? Right. Be there on Sunday March 15. 

A TRIP TO BUNKER HILL: Many an Angeleno recalls the day when Victorian manors sat atop Bunker Hill, and not the skyscrapers that now dot the downtown stretch. Travel back to that moment at the Egyptian Theatre via "Bunker Hill Revisited," a 60-minute documentary about one of our city's first neighborhoods. Also playing? A noir flick about "Angel's Flight," the last landmark on the Hill. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[St. Pat's Treats: Whiskey-Infused Desserts]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 06:24:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NapoleonsMacaronsWhiskeyChocolateMacaron.jpg

If you were selected as a contestant on a game show, and you had to name something edible that's green, and you had three seconds to answer, you might correctly resort to "broccoli" or "avocado" or "key limes" or the like.

But if you answered with Whiskey Chocolate Macarons, you would not be incorrect (though the host might need to hit the pause button to research your answer further). Treats and snacks and sweets take on a distinctive emerald hue around March 17, and whether your dessert is the color of shamrocks, or simply has the kick of a made-in-Ireland liquor, you can find your fun holiday eats at shops and restaurants around Southern California.

So who's on the erin-go-bragh-y bite train for the 2015 St. Patrick's Day celebrations? Point your shillelagh towards...

Napoléon's Macarons: We'll just leave this description right here, on your cookie plate -- "whiskey-infused milk chocolate ganache surrounding pieces of dark chocolate" -- and assure you that if you need a green thing to take to your St. Pat's bash, this is green. Well, the almond cookies keeping all of that ganache in are green and yellow. You're good. Find the treat at a trio of SoCal spots, including the Americana at Brand in Glendale.

Irish Breakfast Milkshake: Coolhaus, the by-truck (and in Culver City and Pasadena, brick-and-mortar-like) ice cream shop, is known for its stacked-high cookies-plus-cold-stuff treats, but this is a straight-up milkshake with a holiday twist: The inclusion of Lucky Charms. And the ice cream used in the shake? Why, you'll taste some whiskey going on, yes you will. The Coolhausians recommend it with Maple Flapjack cookies blended in, to complete the breakfasty vibe.

Preux & Proper: The downtown NOLA-esque joint summons the flavors of Louisiana, so think Bourbon Street as you tuck into a slice of Pecan Pie that arrives complete with a scoop of Jameson ice cream. Or will you just eat that scoop first, before getting to the pie? That's fine -- St. Patrick's Day is one of the most mirthful of holidays, so there's no need to get too overthink about your holiday sweet intake.

Photo Credit: Napoleon's Macarons]]>
<![CDATA[Free Quirky Good: ArtNight Pasadena]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 17:18:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ArtNight_0004psychic.jpg

While there are as many forms of expression and ways of making art as there are canvasses and lumps of clay and skeins of yarn and walls in galleries, there are really only a few oft-practiced ways in which we approach an art-themed outing. 

One? We visit a location to see a specific show or exhibit. Or two? We arrive somewhere fully expecting to be surprised, bewitched, and submerged in the unknown.

There's a middle path, of course — multiple middle paths in art-going-out-to-seeing, surely — and the middle way is well-represented by ArtNight Pasadena. The twice-a-year free night, which lands around the Crown City on Friday, March 13, is very much about showcasing many of the lauded institutions and galleries and centers that call the city home.

But within those places, and outside of them? There shall be delights and weird doings and surprises and music and performance, the kind of thing you didn't know you were seeking until it finds you. So you stand for a minute or two, soak it in, appreciate it a little or a lot, and then move on (or stay all evening). 

You'll know the places on the roster, like Armory Center for the Arts and Art Center College of Design and Pasadena Conservatory of Music. Culture Shock and the Los Angeles Children's Chorus and Yarn Bombing Los Angeles will be about, entertaining and engaging and prodding onlookers, and onlisteners, to more questions and deep thoughts.

It is a Friday night, though, so those deep thoughts require dinner. Look for a host of food trucks, like Kogi and Slammin' Sliders, to be stationed outside all of the locales showing and making and performing art.

But does "showing and making and performing art" go the distance, description-wise? When you walk the middle paths as an art lover, toward known properties and unexpected surprises, you leave with fresh ideas and notions, if all goes well.

And it usually does. That's pretty fab, for a Friday, fresh ideas, delivered for free to your brain/ears/eyes, and maybe a food truck burger or two for a tenner.

Photo Credit: Claire Curran/ArtNight Pasadena]]>
<![CDATA[CicLAvia New: Walkable Soundscape]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 06:42:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/headphones1.jpg

Wishing that walls -- and sidewalks and benches and asphalt and trees -- could talk is a feeling known to every big-city-er, especially when we step away from the blocks and streets we know well.

Creating talking walls, of sorts, is one of the aim's of CicLAvia, the massive, free, massive, did we say massive?, come-one-come-all bike ride that takes over a major car-free SoCal street every few months. CicLAvia is community-oriented at its healthy heart, a boundary breaker-downer, but the organization behind the mega ride is going one better for its Sunday, March 22, visit to the Valley.

The ride, along with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, commissioned Dutch artists Rob van Rijswijk and Jeroen Strijbos to create a soundscape rich with local history and lore, an auditory experience designed for those hoofing it along the event on March 22.

How to hear it? Why there's an app, you betcha. It's called Walk with Me, it's free and available at the Apple Store, and it will brim with tunes, vintage radio interviews, surprising snippets, and present-day memories of locals who have lived and worked along the Lankershim-to-Ventura corridor.

GPS markers along the route cue the app to launch into the next pinpointed auditory experience. Listen for "an elderly Valley resident talk about the area changes she's seen in her lifetime" as well as classical interludes, voices of longtime area workers, and "the crackling sounds of a 1930s radio interview with Amelia Earhart" (the aviatrix possessed strong ties to The Valley).

As for what's going on in the present? "Live street sounds" will intermingle with the produced experience, entering through the listener's iPhone mic.

It's a neato, go-deeper/broader way to approach one of our region's largest community-bonding happenings, one that loves on the local. Will future CicLAvia's boast a listen-in, learn-more component regarding other boulevards and streetscapes around our city?

Fingers, and headphone wires, crossed.

Photo Credit: Headphones]]>
<![CDATA[Night Dramatic: ASICS Lights LA Marathon Course]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 10:16:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ASICSSpotlightRendering.jpg

Encountering a powerful beam of light or massive installation that glows isn't all that unusual in Southern California.

We're searchlight central, of course, with all of our many movie premieres, and floodlights light up our streets while those movies are filmed. Add to that our artworks, like LACMA's Urban Light and LAX's iconic, hue-changing pylons, and Angelenos are often treated to an after-sunset show of sparkly proportions.

But Friday, March 13 will be rather different in the light-up-the-night-sky annals, for a few reasons, a principal one being the length of the light: ASICS, the title sponsor for the 2015 ASICS Los Angeles Marathon, will mark each mile of the Stadium to Sea course via "124 spotlights, totaling over 7.5 million lumens" or the "equivalent of 29,100 light bulbs."

Yep, that's mighty bright all right. To admire all of that ephemeral illumination, ASICS suggests that "high vantage points around the city" will be the way to go if you want a look-see at the lights, which'll run from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica.

Thank goodness we have a hill or two 'round these parts, and a few skyscrapers as well.

The 7.5 million lumens get lumening around 8:40 p.m. on March 13, and everything wraps at 10:15 p.m. (If you've been thinking of doing drinks at an up, up, up spot like Yamashiro, March 13 could be your lucky night for a window-pretty show.)

As for the people below creating the sky magic? Some 85 people will be behind the curtain, with 26 stake bed trucks dotting the marathon course. The total number of course-dotting beams? Twenty seven in all.

True, the marathon is not the next morning -- it runs on Sunday, March 15 -- but if you're running, you'll want to get to bed just after the March 13 show flicks the off switch, yes? Good eating, good sleep.

And "the largest known marathon course light activation ever," per the people putting it on. That sounds like a very SoCal way to kick off the big marathon weekend.

image: an ASICS rendering

Photo Credit: ASICS]]>
<![CDATA[Summer Got Bigger: Street Food Cinema Schedule]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:50:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SFC2013SheldonChau.jpg

How long is a Southern California summer?

That depends upon how you define the concept of "summer" -- is it a season or a lifestyle? -- and the person asking. (We all get a little braggier, despite our noblest intentions, when speaking with someone from a colder clime.)

Street Food Cinema is kindly helping us with this age-old conundrum via its 2015 schedule. If you're thinking that these are the people who put on the outdoor movies during the warmer months, along with special guest appearances, live music, food trucks, and other spirit-raising to-dos, you're correct.

If you're thinking that the season runs from mid-June-ish to the middle of September, like summer does in most places, we'll have to au contraire you right there. The Street Food Cinema schedule was revealed near the start of March, and it actually fills six whole months.

As in half a year. As in the second day of May to Halloween. Could that be considered LA's own summer season? It surely is, cinema-under-the-stars-wise.

The first movie up? It's "The Breakfast Club" on May 2 at Exposition Park (and it is the 30th anniversary, no less -- chew on that for a moment). The last movie out? It's also at Exposition Park, but on Halloween night, and, yes, it's "Shaun of the Dead (you probably guessed it would be something like that).

Between the spring date and autumn evening? Lots of movies, dozens in fact, covering the wide, wide gamut. "Purple Rain" and "Thelma & Louise" and "10 Things I Hate About You" and the 40th anniversary of "Jaws" are on the out-sized schedule, a schedule that will spread over multiple park-nice settings around SoCal, and not just Exposition Park.

Surely there'll be one near you.

If you want to total up all of the big numbers behind this extended outdoorsy laze-upon-a-lawn summer season, the organizers have your tally: 50 events, 27 weeks, 11 locations. Pretty impressive for something a couple years shy of its first half-decade (translation: It started in 2012).

So will you go to every single event? From the start of May to the close of October? Maybe if you want to up your brag-a-tude over how long and luxurious the summer season 'round SoCal tends to be.

But should we be bragging or inviting our pals in colder climes to come join us on the lawn? The latter, of course.

Photo Credit: Sheldon Chau]]>
<![CDATA[Tulips Pop at Descanso Gardens]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:05:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tulipsdescanso1.jpg

Flower fans, as a whole, find much to unite over: the beauty, the nature-niceness, the joy of colorful petals that brighten any room or yard.

But people who pick peonies or roses as their most-loved flower are as distinctive in their tastes as someone who is all about tulips. Flowers boast oodles of individual character, any gardener will vow, and the tulip is tops in this character-filled category.

One of Holland's most famous symbols, the tulips is very much about symmetry, rich hues, and a stem-firm uprightness not shared by many other buds. Even when it leans, it still has some of the best posture in any plot.

A quick jaunt to Holland to admire such qualities may not be in the cards for we tulip lovers, but California is home to Tulipmania — a February happening at Pier 39 in San Francisco — and tulip growers like Modesto's own Dutch Hollow Farms. And, yes, oversized faux tulips are ever-present inside "it's a small world" at Disneyland. 

And one of the shining stars of real-live-honest-to-bulb-ness tulip-o-sity, at least 'round Southern California, is now making its colorful stand: The flowers are doing their whole be-brilliant-in-the-sunshine thing at Descanso Gardens, where there's currently "(a) sea of tulips on the Promenade." 

Tulips in wines, reds, and pinks, no less. Aren't tulips both attention-grabbing and charmingly prim, all at the same time? Perennials don't come more complex. (Sorry other perennials; we feel you'll agree.)

The lilacs and cherry trees are going to town — er, gardens — around the La Cañada Flintridge tree-packed spread, too. And you thought Descanso was principally about its most famous flower, that belle of the wintertime, the camellia.

Oh, we're elbowing you. Of course you know the expansive nature park is about more than camellias. But when the tulips top out, it can be hard to admire any other flowers in the vicinity.

No one is ever into spotlight-stealers, but tulips in March? We say, when they appear in profusion, they can steal all the spotlights they like.

Photo Credit: Descanso Gardens]]>
<![CDATA[Slippers and Clockstrikes: "Cinderella" on the Stage]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 11:36:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Cinderella_ahmanson1.jpg

A story that has a memorable touchstone, item, sound or sight is a story that'll weather centuries.

But weathering centuries isn't solely what a great story is about. Some magic is needed, and a magic wand has clearly been waved over "Cinderella," a tale that is instantly recognizable by its distinct parts: glass slippers and pumpkin-pretty coaches and shoe-grabbing staircases and that dastardly clock that strikes midnight, much to our heroine's chagrin. 

Midnight's enchantment-ending ways are on full display in the musical from Rodgers & Hammerstein, which dashes down the palace stairs at The Ahmanson from March 17 through April 26.

This is a famous take on the old-old-old tale of the cheerful young woman who gets to go to the big ball, courtesy of her fairy godmother. It's the only tale the legendary music-making duo ever created for television -- Julie Andrews starred back in 1957 -- and the spectacle brims with romantic ditties such as "Ten Minutes Ago," songs that are pure powdered sugar for the ears.

And heart, of course. What would "Cinderella" be without its sweet swoon? Just a clock and some great shoes.

The lavish, big-skirted production nabbed Tonys during its Broadway run, and served as a jumpstarter for the recent fairy-tale renaissance in modern pop culture. And is it the only "Cinderella" in town? Nope: It has a cinematic complement in the live-action Disney "Cinderella," which bows on March 13.

Fairytales, of course, aren't all powdered sugar -- there's some vinegar mixed in, and sass and drama and scares, too. If you're going to write your own, though, and you want it to last for centuries as "Cinderella" has, consider filling your story with symbols and items that will eventually become iconic.

Truly, what other yarn has taken full possession of those twelve, sonorous chimes in such a memorable fashion? "Cinderella" has practically trademarked the spot on the clock where both hands meet up top.

That is some powerful mythmaking, right there, if a time of day is widely associated with a story. But note: The Ahmanson shows begin well before midnight each day of the LA run.

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg]]>
<![CDATA[Redondo Aloft: The Festival of the Kite]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 23:05:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kite+festival.jpg

How often the wind is muttered at and bemoaned, and not just by people leaving the hair salon or the fancy frock shop (two things a strong breeze has been known to undo, or upend, in mere seconds).

But wind, of course, is a friend, too. Look to the massive turbines of Gorgonio Pass by Palm Springs, and other wind-to-energy farms, and look to those soul-stirring sights that only wind can whip up. 

Dandelion fluff blowing by is one such sight, and so are kites, which, we think goes without saying, are the wind's BFFs. You can see this time-old friendship — kites + wind 4evr — on most excellent and free-to-see display in Redondo Beach on Sunday, March 8.

The Festival of the Kite has been around for four long decades, plus a year, which is rather less time than wind has been around, but still is quite impressive, and long-running, nonetheless. 

Anyone can join, if they arrive with a kite, and anyone can watch, if they happen to be in the vicinity of Redondo Pier between the hours of noon and 5 p.m. If that end time has you a little concerned that you might be flying your magic dragon as shadows fall, take heart: March 8 is the start of Daylight Saving Time, so sunset is later. (Also a good note to remember to spring forward, too.)

Need a kite? Sunshine Kite Company is the co-host of the day of wind and whimsy, along with the Redondo Pier Association. Do you remember when you last bought string and something to tie it to, in order to make that something fly above your head? Was it even in this millennium? 

Really, these are the questions we need to be asking ourselves. It might seem like a light query, when you last flew a kite, but if it has been too long, that might be cause for further introspection.

Don't take it from us. The close of "Mary Poppins" is all about a man reconnecting with his family, dreams, and happy life through the act of kite-flying. This classic would not steer us wrong.

All right, wind, we'll see you at Redondo Pier on the first day of DST, sunnier evenings, and good times. We'll bring the kite, you bring the breeze.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Mega Vine: Sierra Madre's Star Wistaria on View]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:43:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/Wistaria2010_agp.jpg

Early March may be famous for roaring in like a lion, or so the old saying goes, and for basketball lovers shoring up their March Madness predictions, lists, and friendly wagers.

But garden catalogs and ads dominate, too, since finer weather is on the way (lionine beginnings or not). What would you do, dear gardeners of Southern California, if, instead of a plot of petunias, you had to manage a flowering vine that's well over 250 tons? A plant that has weathered three centuries, and is thought to grow up to two feet a day?

It sounds like something out of a horticulturist's wildest daydream, and yet it is real, and in Sierra Madre. We speak of the town's famous-the-world-over wistaria vine -- that's wistaria with an "a" in the middle and not an "e" -- and its epic run from 1894, when it was just a baby wistaria in a wee pot, to today, when it lavishly drapes over two large backyards at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. 

"Two large backyards" would imply that the lookie-loos will never see this amazing, on-private-property vine, but lookie-loos, take heart: On Sunday, March 15 the backyards shall open up to the public, for free, as is annual tradition.

It's the only day of the year that the wistaria vine is open to public viewing.

Does the sweet town below the backyards throw a full-on street fair, complete with food booths and craft vendors, to honor its floral wonder? Sierra Madre most certainly does celebrate. Are there shuttles up to the vine, if you don't want to walk up the pleasant but semi-steep hill? There are, for a fee.

Has the wistaria vine made the Guinness Book of World Records? It has, as the world's largest blossoming plant.

Will you see changes in this flowering marvel, year to year? Well, that's a tricky one, and a question that depends on how eagle-eyed you are. The vine, regardless of the state of its blooms (much dependent on winter rainfall), always seems prodigiously full, a purple roof through which a little bit of sunshine streams.

If you're a gardener, would you want such a famous plant in your charge? Many plant lovers would. So as those garden catalogs arrive, we say get to dreaming. Maybe in the year 2136 future people will be strolling through your backyard, admiring a giant vine you planted today.

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[Love Peeps? New Milk Line Inspired by Marshmallow Treats ]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 06:00:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Peep+Milk+Flavors.jpg

Now you can eat your Peeps and drink them, too.

Prairie Farms, a dairy company in Illinois, has teamed up with the sugary treat maker to deliver Peeps-flavored milk.

The milk comes in three different flavors: Chocolate Marshmallow Milk, Marshmallow Milk and Easter Egg Nog. Both marshmallow milks can be purchased in reduced-fat varieties, and the calories for each milk range from 190 to 250 calories, according to Prairie Farms' website

According to a press release, Peeps is the No. 1 non-chocolate candy brand at Easter. Prairie Farm said that given that fact, “creating a line of flavors that joins the two strong brands was an obvious choice.”

The "PEEP-tastic" milk hits retail outlet shelves in the Midwest this week. But Peep-lovers will have to act fast to get their fix.

“The milk is seasonal for Easter, so depending on the store it should be available until early April,” Rebecca Leinenbach, vice president of marketing and communications for Prairie Farms, told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The Peeps milk closely follows a wider trend of enchanced offerings in the dairy industry. Coca-Cola’s new milk line called Fairlife includes flavored versions and adds 50 percent more natural protein and calcium than regular milk.

Photo Credit: Prairie Farms ]]>
<![CDATA[Orbs of Flavor: Meatball Day]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:09:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/rocksugarspicychickenmeatball.jpg

There are so many foodstuffs that are consumed in one way and one way only (we're not talking to you bananas, which are good on both cereal and eaten straight, nor you, ice cream, which is perfect scooped and ideal in a milkshake).

On the opposite end of that unyielding, single-option-ized way of consuming a comestible is the meatball, a glistening hearty orb that has its backers in a few areas. The first area? Meatballs atop pasta, a sight so becoming they look like little round crowns atop any kingly dish. Two? In a sub of some sort, covered with melted cheese and marinara. And three? Neat. Straight-up. Just a plate with a big ol' meatball on it.

Which camp do you occupy? It's okay if you move among the three, depending on circumstance, because circumstance is always a fine thing to consider before sinking a fork into a hunk of beef, lamb, turkey or soy. (Don't cock your eyebrow: A piquant soy meatball can go the distance.)

Meatball Day is upon us, on March 9. True, it coincides with Meatless Monday -- meaning you might want to consider the soy route -- but if you've got to go classic ball, make for...

RockSugar Pan Asian: The Century City restaurant is doing up a banh mi, but with a spicy chicken meatball twist. Accompanying the meatballs inside the sub-like sandwich? Cucumber and pickled carrots (there's also a version with Thai basil, chilis, mint, and cilantro).

Huckleberry Cafe: So you're in Santa Monica and you're longing for something on ciabatta, which is a perfectly common longing, because ciabatta is a queen among chewy, soft breads. Head for this sweet, sandwich-plus outpost which does up a warm turkey meatball deal on, you guessed it, ciabatta.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge: A tried-and-tasty meatball with pomodoro plus Parmigiano-Reggiano? That's on the social bites menu of this tune-cool hangout in Beverly Hills. Do meatballs pair well with the enjoyment of music? When you're full you're focused, so let's say a hearty yes.

Photo Credit: RockSugar]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: PaleyFest Opens]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 08:28:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/janethevirginpaley1.jpg

PaleyFest Los Angeles Opens: Television has been around for a good long time now, but seeing a lauded TV cast chat, on a panel, outside of a talk show appearance, is still a fairly rare thing. Unless you're at PaleyFest, the Paley Center for Media's week-plus celebration of TV casts, creatives and the fans who want to know all. The 2015 runs from March 6 through 15 at the Dolby Theatre and as for those shows and stars on the stage? Kerry Washington and "Scandal" will be in the house and Gina Rodriguez from "Jane the Virgin," too. Sometimes hints are dropped about what's ahead, if you're into that, though the celebrations stay remarkably (for this day and age) spoiler-free.

The Festival of the Kite: It matters not if there's a boat way out on the horizon, or cool bit of kelp that's just washed onto shore, or someone buried up to their shoulders in sand (an impressive feat, always). If there's a kite overhead, at the beach, attention is drawn upward, because a fluttering, beautiful object over the waves is just about number 5 on the List of Life's Best Sights. This long-running gathering at Redondo Pier is free. You can fly your kite, too, on Sunday, March 8, or just enjoy one of Life's Best Sights from the beach.

Return of the Grunion: Most people are familiar with the small silversides fishes that wriggle up onto land, to spawn, during certain nights of the year, but tell someone who has never heard of the natural wonder and they'll likely say "aw, go on and pull the other one." It's all true, it is a marvel to behold, and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro hosts an informative program on the nights that the grunion are expect (much has to do with the moon and tides, as has been tradition for eons). Only a few nights are ahead for 2015, and Saturday, March 7, is the first.

Lantern Festival: Say farewell to the many Lunar New Year festivities with this afternoon-long (and into evening) free happening at the Chinese American Museum downtown. There shall be the making of abacuses, there shall be the making of kites, there will be lessons in calligraphy, too. And, of course, you'll make lanterns, the glowing centerpiece of the celebration. Have you spent a moment ushering in the Year of the Ram yet? Let your lantern lead the way. Saturday, March 7

Casino Moderne: Southern California presents ample opportunity to get swanky, including swanky circa the 1920s. One of the nicest of natty nights is Casino Moderne, a fundraiser for the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Saturday, March 7. People wear flapper-style frocks and feathery headbands and dress as though they stepped out of an Errol Flynn movie, all while sipping Sidecars and playing Roulette. A general admission ticket is $65, but the compliments you'll get on that long pearl strand of your grandmother's you mean to wear more? Worth a bundle in good feelings, too. 

Photo Credit: Jane the Virgin]]>