Art Supplied at Santa Monica Airport

Appropriately-named "Spaghetti Western"

Santa Monica Art Studios, housed in a former airplane hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, opened its doors this past weekend for the 6th Annual Open Studios event.  I have been to several of the six yearly events, ostensibly to support one of the artists in residence, my old friend Rachel Grynberg.  But each year I really enjoy the variety of works on display, and the ability to meet the artists and their representatives.  This year’s event did not disappoint.

Artist Rachel Grynberg in her studio

The hangar, including a front space (the “Arena 1 Gallery“), a couple of hallways, and over 30 studios, was lined with artwork that ranged from a giant Clint Eastwood-clad Barilla spaghetti box to paintings, prints, photos, and much more.  The Arena 1 space was occupied with a show entitled F-Utility (with a dot, not a dash), curated by artist Oona Gardner and displaying a number of pieces and images from a variety of artists, including Julie Schustack, Mark Moskovitz, and Matt Monroe.  Moskovitz’ You Are Here series of digital prints was a result of something that would be right at home on blogging.la: the Cleveland-area artist took an east-west run from the Highland Park area to the Santa Monica Pier and back — over 30 miles — and took snapshots of what he saw along the way.

Julie Schustack's "Piano Vise" -- a working music player

Monroe’s Frontier also picked up the travel theme, but in a different way.  His piece — the most noticeable of the entire event — was a full-size covered wagon made from plastic IKEA items, including shower curtains, baseball bats, ice trays, and toy guns.  Imagine how America would have been different if the pioneers had been able to stock up at IKEA before their trek westward, and neatly store their items in large plastic tubs.

"Frontier" by Matt Monroe

I also had an interesting conversation with Andrea Lithgow, artist and proprietor of the Dandy Jewelry mini-shop arranged on a couple of tables at the back of the hangar.  Andrea makes and sells beautiful glazed ceramic jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces, and more. Her pieces are hand-made yet “mass produced”: even though many pieces were similar looking, no two were identical.

Andrea Lithgow of Dandy Jewelry

Whether you want to contemplate art vs. commerce, are in the mood to buy some fascinating pieces (reasonably priced, compared to what I have seen at other art events), or just gaze at the glaze, Santa Monica Art Studios should be on your list.  The Arena 1 F-Utility show in particular will continue at the Studios through November 20.

Ferrying One’s Way to Artisanal LA This Weekend

Most of the things I miss about the Bay Area has a decent, if not better, substitute here.  For example, when my body addict-aches from lack of Cheeseboard Pizza, I head over to Pizzeria Mozza for something comparable (before the food bloggerati riots, my emphasis is on comparable).  There is, however, a void: snobbery aside, I miss the Ferry Building, or, at least, the idea of the Ferry Building.  You could go there on any given day and pick up jams, fresh bread, and chocolate for your mom, all in one place.  You also could attend the occassional class on sausage or pasta making.  LA does not have anything quite similar; Santa Monica Place promises The Market, a spot where local vendors can show off their fancy gourmet wares … starting in early 2011 (at best).  Artisanal LA, set for October 23rd and 24th at the Cooper Building downtown, will fill the gap nicely.

Organized by Shawna Dawson, one-half of the team that organized Unique LA and the LA Street Food Fest, Artisanal LA promises a food truckload of events: demos (new butchers Lindy & Grundy will show off their knife skills during a “heritage meats and home butchering” demo); workshops (i.e., urban farming); and copious sampling (food and beer and vodka and did I mention beer and vodka?).  In addition, there will be 75 (and counting) local tastemakers offering their locally made food (among others, Homegirl Cafe, Backwards Bee Keepers, and the awesomely named That’s a Nice! Italian foods).

Advance tickets to Artisanal LA are $10 (partial proceeds will benefit the LAUSC Edible School Gardens which, to give credit where it’s due, has Alice Waters to thank).  On the day-of, tickets will be $15 at the door (assuming there is room capacity).  One ticket gets you in the whole weekend, so in case you are so busy eating/shopping/both on Saturday, you’ll have a second chance to have another go at it on Sunday.  I know, whew.

Life Before License

32% of all collisions in Los Angeles are hit and run, and the penalties for getting caught really don’t discourage this. Recently Celine Mahdavi, the women who clobbered Louis Deliz into 49 days of hospitalization and likely a lifetime a pain and suffering, then fled the scene, was given no jail time, no suspension of license, only 90 days of community service. This is insane. If you you someone with your car and then drive away leaving them for dead, at the very least your license should be pulled. The folks over at Bikeside are initiating the “Life Before License” campaign to fix the law and put some value back on human life. They are proposing the following:

-A hit and run which results in fatality will result in the loss of driving privileges for 10 years.
-A hit and run which results in permanent disability, or causes a life threatening injury will result in the loss of driving privileges for 5 years.
-A hit and run which results in injury, but which does not lead to permanent disability or a life threatening injury, will result in the loss of driving privileges for 2 years.
-A hit and run which results in the damage of property only will result in the loss of driving privileges for 1 year.

But more than just proposing, they are actually trying to make this happen. On Sunday, 10/17, at the Hollywood Adventist Church at 1711 N. Van Ness Ave from 1pm to 3pm there will be an organizational meeting to plan and assign next steps. This is important and it’s worth your attention.

Pocket Parks: Schader Park

You know those tiny pockets inside your regular front jeans pocket? The one that is supposed to be for a pocket watch or something? Schader Park is like that pocket – TINY!

This lovely little slip of a park is along Cloverfield Blvd, just south of Santa Monica (Click on the map image to go to the map.)

And it’s not large. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm, shady benches and lovely trees.

And that is all there is to say about this wee green space!

Coming Out is Hard. You Can Do It.

My friend and I walked by a Bridal Expo in Pasadena yesterday.  A man was outside, handing out flyers for wedding photography.  He started to give me one, and I started to take it – really, I was trying to do him a favor (flyering in 85 degree weather sucks) – then he started to pull it back.  “Wait,” he said, and then waited.  “You two can’t get married.”  My friend demanded to know why not, and he said, slowly, “…You’re too young.”  Oh, is that what we’re calling gays now?  If by “too young,” he meant, “too gay,” he was right.  I’m too gay to get married.

Today is October 11th, which is significant not only because it’s the day after the very celebrated 10/10/10, but also because it’s National Coming Out Day.  Even though this day means more to some than to others in the same way that Chinese New Year is more festive for some than to others, it’s still important for everyone.  You don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy a bit of that whole roasted pig; you don’t have to be gay to appreciate the underlying value of today.

You have to have a lot of balls, and be in the right part of the country, to come out now.  I came out before the discombobulated express train that is the Tea Party, so while there was your run-of-the-mill homophobia, it was no where near the level of fear that has been normalized by the Mad Hatters.  I also came out when I was a student in Berkeley, where everyone spends at least one semester gay, thinking they’re gay, or sorely disappointed that they are not gay.  In contrast, we now don’t even have the privilege of claiming marriage rights as priority on the gay agenda; Prop. 8’s implicit battle against homophobia has been supplanted by an explicit battle for the right to live, period.  It’s worth noting that on October 5, 2009, The New York Times had a piece called “Bullied for Being Gay”; exactly one year later, on October 5, 2010, the paper published a lesson plan for teachers on how to deal with the exact same issue, calling it a “troubling trend.”  Troubling, yes; trend, not really; way of life, more likely.  If we’re not still contending with physical bullying, then we’re trying to deal with asshat verbal bullies.  New York Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino, for the record, is not homophobic.  He just hates gay people.

A friend of mine in the closet still (who this post really is meant for, bud) is very angry at straight people, and wonders what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot.  Wouldn’t that be something?  If, for one day, we were allowed to be heterophobic, complete with the ugly manifestation of that fear balled up with the insecurity, anxiety, and paranoia that accompanies any phobia?  Can you imagine: a gang of gay kids harassing the straight kid in their math class because he was caught kissing little Peggy Sue behind the tetherball courts?  Or if a prominent gay politician posited, during a speech to like-minded folks, that heterosexuals are the reason for the disintegration of the family unit (the systematic exclusion of gay couples from legal marriage means there really is only one group to blame for the 50% divorce rate), and that they are threatening “our” livelihood and very essence of being?

You cannot, of course, really fight hate with more hate and not end up with an unending, and unwinnable, war of attrition.  But it is fun to imagine that for a bit, if only to relieve some anger at the people intent on killing you.  That mental exercise aside, coming out right now is not easy.  But it’s not impossible.   You’ve locked yourself in the closet and can’t seem to find the key, but, hey, it’s been in your pocket all this time.  You just need to help yourself to it.  Once you unlock that door, you’ll find some people on the other side waiting with open arms, others with their arms folded.  Ignore the folds.  Aim for the hugs.

Once you tell one person (even if that one person is yourself), it’s a lot easier to tell the next person.  Then the next, and the next.   There are places you can go if you can’t talk to me.  It took him a while, but even Clark Kent had to tell Lois Lane that he was Superman.

Featured image of the rainbow flag courtesy Ludovic Bertron and used under a Creative Commons license.

CicLAvia Magnificentia

I’m still buzzing from the glorious wonder that was today’s historic CicLAvia, so in lieu of me waxing all misty-eyed over such a beautiful thing, just travel with me for a three-minute handlebar cam timelapse I made of the latter half of my second roundtrip of the 7.5-mile route from Boyle Heights’ Hollenbeck Park to East Hollywood’s Bicycle District.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5-lYpcAaD8[/youtube]

Shake Out planned for 10/21 at 10:21.

Ready for the big one? Practice with me and another nearly 7 Million Californians on 10/21 at 10:21AM. Its easy, sign up with The Great California Shake Out and follow the simple instructions to participate HERE.

Looking for more than participating in the drill? They have the resources available to help you organize a drill in your home or office. Their website HERE.

Still looking for more. The Los Angeles Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is looking for some regular folks to step up and be ready to help out in a catastrophe. You can visit their web site for information on how to sign up, take FREE classes and be ready to help the community out when the big one hits.

Check out LA Moves web site for more quake information that is Los Angeles Specific. Their site is being constantly updated with local information and activities. They have a big event planned to coincide with next years Shake Out.

Got your earthquake kit for your home completed? I check mine twice yearly and toss out the old stuff and put in new. That includes both food stuff and batteries for the flashlights. Do you have your own personal quake kit for your cars (water, snack bars, blanket, flashlight and first aid kit)? What about for at work? If you work in an office environment where dress shoes or pumps are de rigueur do you have some tenny runners to swap out to for the long walk to a shelter or home?

For you newbies to LA who haven’t been in a real quake yet do you know what to do? This short vid from the ’08 Shake out still applies.  Youtube HERE.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8qwBJk6dF8[/youtube]
And just for a reminder as to what to expect when the big one hits this Youtube video from last years simulates the shaking intensity from epicenter in the desert to LA just to prepare you for what to expect when a large quake strikes. Youtube HERE.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xioHswbahPc[/youtube]

Menu Mining: Closin’ Up Shop… For Now

A cheesesteak from South Philly Experience. Who knew this would be one of LA's best dishes?

You know that part of the restaurant experience when one person is silently elected to collect the menus and hand them back to the waitron? Sometimes it ends up being two people, or one of the more robust athletes at the table, because sometimes menus are thick, heavy things, like Michener novels or American children.

And it’s the part of the meal with the most uncertainty. Did you make the right choice? You came here in the mood for pasta, but that fish sounded so good. Should you have gotten an appetizer? Soup? Will there be enough naan?

We kinda feel that way too. Which is why we’re closing the Menu Mining series, but keeping a thumb in the middle for future reference. So, while the bulk of our series detailing the best dishes in Los Angeles is over, you may see it pop up occasionally. So keep your eyes peeled.

In the meantime, here’s the master list of all the posts thus far.

The Inaugural Post

Garage Pizza’s eponymous pie

Little Dom’s Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Salt Peanut Chocolate Cake at The Nickel Diner

Crepes au Lard at Cafe Massila

Musso & Frank’s Semi-Secret Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Deep Fried Quesadillas at Antojitos Carmen

Potato Balls and Rellenitos at Porto’s

Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow

Tuna Tuna Bowl at TOT Little Tokyo

Garlic Chicken at Versailles

Calzone at LaRocco’s Pizza

Bun Thit Nuong at Golden Deli

Chilaquiles at Hugo’s

Jake’s Mushroom Burger

Cafe Tropical’s Medianoche Sandwich

Sticky Toffee Pudding at Waterloo and City

Drunken Shrimp at The Gumbo Pot

Empanadas and Chimichurri at El Morfi

Shanghai Pan-Fried Dumplings at Kang Kang Food Court

Celebrating LA Beer Week With Some Big Cheese

Starting today and going on until the 17th, the second annual LA Beer Week Festival celebrates the greatness that is beer.  I know, you’re going to say, smartly and/or snarkily, “Every week is LA Beer Week”.  Yes, but it’s not every week that special casks will be opened and tapped for the first time, nor is it every week where your local pub will have something special on tap for one night only.  And what is beer without the food – especially the cheese – to go with it?  There is, for example, a cheese and beer event on the 13th at the Karl Strauss brewery in Universal City.  The following day, Patrick Rue, owner of The Bruery will be on tap (heh heh) at Verdugo Bar to share a few rare beers.  Hot Knives – who prove that you can drink beer and not eat meat and still be men – will pair cheese with Rue’s brews.  Sorry, wine – in this economy, cheese’s preferred plus one is a little more blue collar.

In honor of Beer Week and, more directly, in a blatant attempt to score tickets to the sold out Bruery/Hot Knives event, I’m going to share one of my favorite beer and cheese pairings with you.  Trust me, if you walked onto Noah’s ark that fateful night to see how he was doing with his little pet project there, you’d see these two finding each other in the corner, playfully bickering, but always bringing out the best in each other, as all great pairings are wont to do.  In short, it’d be like a Biblical rom-com starring Jennifer Aniston as Eve and Matthew McConaughey as Adam.  I know you want to see it.

I’m going to let Wallace here introduce you to one of my favorite cheeses, edam.  [You’re going to have to sit through a short ad for something Australian – sorry.]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y_L22kEVo8[/youtube]

Assuming that the Shopper 13 could drop off the cheese and get on to the local liquor store, I’d bet that Gromit would direct it to pick up a nice strong ale.  You see, that red wheel of edam is a little mild, almost timid, and needs a strong ale to show off its very best parts without bullying and overwhelming it.  Edam is not the type to turn you off too quickly by coming on too strongly, the way blue cheese is apt to do.  The cheese may be a little (pine) nutty, but it’s not crazy.  No, edam is as smooth and mild as Clark Kent, with a few licks of salt in there to make you think that it’s a pre-seasoned sailor nearly ready to take on the high seas.

I’ve found edam at a few markets and noticed that they’re shipped off into the world while they’re quite young.  Me, I like edam the way I like my women: a little more mature, a lot more experienced.   An older edam is sharper, and its sailor’s cap is a markedly saltier than its former younger self.  It’s a nuttier too, but it’s not at the insanity that is Captain Ahab.  Naw, the edam, while now strongly mild and a little crumbly, is still its mellow yellow self.

The first time I had aged edam was when I was in Bristol, which, incidentally, is home to Aardman and Wallace and Gromit.  It was post-midnight, it was after I attended a lecture, and it was very cold. Shivering, I was given a warm dark ale, little balls of edam, and three apple slices.  In that order.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the exact ale, but I can tell you it was strong, and it was perfect with the apples and edam.

To compensate for my bad memory and in tribute to our cheese-loving friend Wallace and his trusty Charlie Chaplin of a dog, Gromit, I offer up one of my favorite English strong ales to complement the edam:  Fuller’s 1845.  Fuller’s makes a few different beers – a London Porter, an ESB – but the 1845 has a special spot in my heart for being one of the first beers that made me feel like an adult and not like a sorority girl stupidly grinning after downing a bottle of Smirnoff Ice.  You can drink this one with the guys during Monday night football, but it’s strong enough to be carried from the coffee to the dining table without making you feel or look like an alcoholic.  This is not Corona, and nothing on the bottle will turn blue when it reaches a certain temperature.

You have to drink this one a little warm.  Just a bit.  Otherwise, the chill will dilute and/or mask all sorts of crazy flavors you think you wouldn’t get in a beer: juniper berries, rustic bread fresh from the oven, fruit.  A (warm) Fuller’s 1845 is damn good with most things, but paired with edam, the malty, fruity flavors of the beer really bring out the tangy, nutty flavors of the cheese.  For its part, the edam brings out a sweet and caramel flavor to the beer, with strong hints of velvet cocoa showing up to the party a few microseconds later.  You don’t feel uncomfortably full after swinging the alcohol and ball of fat, either, which you do sometimes when a beer and cheese pairing is a little off.  See?  The two deserve each other, and I mean that in the best way possible.  (By the by, this beer also goes well with Wallace’s favo[u]rite cheese of all time, Wensleydale, but that’s for another entry masquerading as a blog post far off into the future.).

You can find edam at your local cheese shop (try the Cheese Store of Silver Lake or the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills).  I picked up my bottle of Fuller’s 1845 from Cap’n Cork in Los Feliz, but also look for it when you’re out and about at the Fifth Amendment Alehouse in Santa Monica.  I’ve also had the luck to find it on tap at The Daily Pint, also in Santa Monica (and a participant in LA Beer Week!).  Failing that, you can find Fuller’s at Beer Week participants 1739 Public House in Los Feliz and Waterloo & City in Culver City.

So many beers, so many cheeses, so much time (10 days!) to sample new brews and eats.  Hopefully I don’t sound like your mother, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say: stay safe.  Like every other beer week, right?

Weird Hollywood and others at book signing Friday 10/8/10

There are book signing and then there are Weird book signings that make it all the more fun to attend. This Friday night from 8pm to 10pm, writer Joe Oesterle, who has written a number of the book’s subjects, and other special guests will be at the legendary Boardners bar off Hollywood Blvd. to mingle, sign books, and share some of the weirder tales Los Angeles has been host to.  This book signing is also being co-sponsored by our past city captain David Markland and creator of CreepyLA.

It’s definitely going to be a weird event. Hope to see you there.

Special Guests so far include:
– Karie Bible (from Film Radar, and more notoriously rumored to be the Lady In Black)
– Scott Michaels (celebrity death expert, owner/operator of Dearly Departed Tours)
– Count Smokula (horror host, songwriter)
– Dennis Woodruff (yeah, that guy with the cars)
– Richard Carradine (GHOULA founder, author of The Park After Dark: An Unauthorized Guide to the Happiest (Haunted) Place on Earth)
– Rich Kuras, Managing Editor of Mania.com
– Christopher Dennis, aka Superman (George Reeves look-a-like) on Hollywood Blvd.
– Steve Goldstein author of “LA’s Graveside Companion.”
– Donna Lethal, sassy Hollywood aficionado and writer
– David Markland (creator, CreepyLA)

Deets 10/8 8PM-10PM, Boardners Bar 1652 N. Cherokee Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Menu Mining: Shanghai Pan-Fried Dumplings at Kang Kang Food Court

Names can be deceiving and although Kang Kang Food Court has the words “food court” in its name, it’s not like the food court you’ll see at your local mall. But in concept, Kang Kang is like a food court in that it has a huge selection of food– it’s a small restaurant in a shopping center in the SGV with a giant “fast food” menu featuring hundreds of cheap and delicious items from all over Taiwan and various regions of China.

If you come here, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices, but I’ll make it simple for you– it’s the Shanghai pan-fried dumplings/buns that this place is really known for. The Shanghai Sheng Jian Bao (上海生煎包) is Kang Kang’s signature dish; you can see patrons chowing down on them at every other table. And as the banner over the doorway proudly proclaims, it was one of the L.A. Times’ Top 10 Recipes of 2009.

These gems are filled with pork, wrapped in a thin dough, pan-fried to perfection and topped with black sesame seeds and green onion. When cooked, the pork filling creates a hot “soup” that fills the inside of the bun. But be warned! Your first instinct may be to take a giant bite into a piping hot dumpling. If you do this, your bun will explode into a hot mess and the inside of your mouth will be instantly scalded! Trust me, I’ve seen it happen. I’ve also been the victim of squirting bun soup juice, so be kind to your fellow eaters and learn the method to eating them so that you don’t lose the soup (the best part!).

The first thing to do is to be careful not to poke a hole in the dumpling while you’re picking it up with your chopsticks. Once you’ve picked up the dumpling, rest it on the spoon (which you’re holding with your other hand) so you can take a small bite on the top of the bun (just enough to make a hole in the dough). Then slowly (carefully) suck the soup out of the dumpling– or if you like to play with your food like I do, up-end the dumpling soup into our soup spoon. The buns are served with a black rice vinegar so after the soup is gone, you can then dip the bun into vinegar and carefully enjoy the rest of the hot dumpling.

It’s kind of ironic that the Shanghai Sheng Jian Bao are not made before 11am at Kang Kang because they are actually a common breakfast food in Shanghai. They’re also often sold as dian xin (點心) (or snacks) and are rarely found as a dish in a main meal in China. But at Kang Kang, they can be the centerpiece of a meal.

My suggestion is to come in, order a combo from the food line (you’ll see when you get there), order the Shanghai pan-fried dumplings at the cashier when you pay for your food and enjoy the combo items while they pan-fry your dumpling goodness. If you can find a table, eat there instead of ordering them to go– the dumplings are better fresh (though they do travel well), and you get tea with your meal if you eat in. A 3-item combo (which comes with rice and soup) + an order of 8 pan-fried dumplings will run you $11. And you’ll probably have leftovers!

And although Kang Kang also does a decent Xiao Long Bao/XLB (小籠包), if you’re here for the pan-fried dumplings, don’t make the mistake of ordering the steamed dumplings which are also sometimes called “Shanghai Dumplings” at other restaurants. (Well, if you’re hungry, you can order both!)

If you have room after all this, check out their shaved ice bar / drink menu. Perfect for hot days in L.A.

Kang Kang Food Court (Pacific Square)
27 E. Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
626-308-3898
CASH ONLY

This is a post in Blogging.LA‘s Menu Mining Series.

Menu Mining: Empanadas and Chimichurri at El Morfi

I’m the proud owner of a pretty deadly combination of psychological quirks: My eyes are bigger than my stomach (and my stomach isn’t exactly tiny), and I hate to waste food. Which is why I wind up groaning on the couch with a distended belly every time I order empanadas from El Morfi, Glendale’s best Argentinean restaurant.

A cheese-and-onion empanada.

Adding to the problem is that the empanadas are pretty remarkably cheap at $1.90 apiece, or $1.30 apiece if you get them take-out style (which I usually do, though El Morfi has a great atmosphere). So I often get myself about six, which is roughly two more than I can comfortably finish. It’s not like the old days of the college cafeteria, when I once attempted to eat my age in fish sandwiches. I was nineteen. I ate seven sandwiches.

But: Empanadas. They come in a pretty broad variety, but my favorite is the corn, a deep-fried pasty full of sweet, hearty chowder. Coming in a close second are cheese-and-onion and cheese-and-jalapeno; the ham-and-cheese are delicious as well. The beef empanadas are pretty good too, though they’re hard not to compare to Jamaican beef patties, which I feel comfortable calling the best kind of empanada in the world, with the possible exception of this one salmon empanada my friend’s grandmother made for me one time in Madrid, and after eating it I marched straight to the American embassy and said I wouldn’t be coming back. Or at least I would have, but I ate too much empanada and couldn’t get off the couch, thus cementing pretty much every European stereotype of Americans.

A corn empanada. It's my favorite.

But no, really: El Morfi empanadas. The best part of ordering these is that El Morfi gives you a sample of their chimichurri sauce, which is surely tied with the garlic sauce from Zankou Chicken as Best Condiment In Los Angeles. Made with olive oil, garlic, parsley and the feather-dandruff from the wings of molting angels, chimichurri is at its best when poured into the open end of an empanada cut in half, so it can drip down and permeate the filling. Put it in your mouth and let the resultant feeling of euphoria roll past your uvula and down your throat. Yes, I know: “That’s what she said.” You know what else she said? Go to El Morfi and get some damn chimichurri sauce. If we don’t support them and they go out of business, god knows where we’ll get the stuff, and I don’t have the money for a ticket to Argentina.

Chimichurri on a wedge of pita. It lasted only seconds after the flash went off.

The folks at El Morfi are smart, though; they only give you a small cup of chimichurri with your empanadas, and then sell the stuff at the counter for $3.75 a jar. Buy it. Slather it on bread. Marinate a chicken in it. Eat it directly from the container. No, don’t do that. You’ll get sick. But buy some. It’s good. You know what? Forget the empanadas if you want. Just get the chimichurri sauce. And bring me some.

Blogger Prom 2010

Blogger Prom 2010, one of the most exciting, most exclusive parties of the year was held recently at the restaurant with perhaps one of the most beautiful views in Los Angeles, Yamashiro. Too many superlatives for the first sentence, you say? To call this event merely spectacular would be gross understatement.

Obligatory awkward pre-prom photo.

Did you have a good time at your high school prom? Really? I went to two senior proms (as a sophomore I dated a senior; aww yeeeah.) Now granted, it’s been a few years since those proms, but as I recall both were notable for not being particularly memorable. What I do remember is paying more than was reasonable for a mediocre meal, bad music, and hanging out for hours with a bunch of people I didn’t particularly like. (No offense to my old high school friends who may be reading this. Not you, of course; I’m talking about all those other jerks.)

Blogger Prom is the grown up version of what those other proms aspire to be. No generic rented tuxedos here. This year’s theme was “L.A. Confidential,” so attendees dressed with that style/period in mind. Everyone looked fantastic. Rather than some unremarkable hotel ballroom, this prom was held at a gorgeous Hollywood landmark. Also, no need to sneak booze in (Dad, if you’re reading, I probably didn’t do that in high school,) as adult beverages were provided by Pinky Vodka, Zaya Rum, The Beer Chicks and Eagle Rock Brewery, and The Dalmore scotch.

Not to be out done by the drinks, the food was provided by Yamashiro’s own Chef Brock. Among other dishes, Chef Brock made a smoked sausage taco. He brought in the smoked sausage from a 100+ year old smoke house on his own family farm in eastern Washington. Delicious! There was also a great Wasabi Guacamole that  he tells me is not as easy to make as it sounds.

In addition to all of the great food and drink in beautiful surroundings, the guest list was made up entirely of southern California bloggers. It was a chance to see old friends, meet new ones, and finally connect faces to many of the online personas that we were already so familiar with.

Queen JozJozJoz's reign begins. Photo by Heather Kincaid (heatherkincaid.com/blog.)

This event was a prom, and of course, every prom needs its Prom Queen. Nominations happened online, with the final voting being completed on the evening of the prom. There was stiff competition, but ultimately one stood victorious. Blogger Prom Queen 2010 is none other than 8Asians.com editor and Blogging.LA‘s own, JozJozJoz!

As the evening wound down, some continued on to the official Blogger Prom after party at Test Kitchen. As we departed, each guest received a fantastic gift bag filled with everything from Pinkberry and Sprinkles cupcakes to passes to American Cinematheque and the Grammy Museum, a gift certificate for tickets at Goldstar.com and so much more.

The tale of this evening would not be complete without a huge thank you to the Blogger Prom Committee, without whom none of this would have been possible. They all worked so hard to put together this delightful evening and make sure that it was the party of the year, and at that they were wildly successful. In addition to throwing one hell of a party, the committee made this a charitable benefit, and were able to raise $2,400 for Operation Fronline Los Angeles. Thank you Caroline On Crack, E*StarLA, Happy Go Marni, LA and OC Foodventures, LAist, Shop Eat Sleep, The Liquid Muse, and When Tara Met Blog.

The Blogger Prom Committee. Photo by Heather Kincaid (heatherkincaid.com/blog.)

Blogger Prom 2009 was fantastic. Blogger Prom 2010 was even better. I don’t mind telling you, I can’t wait for Blogger Prom 2011. If you weren’t on the guest list this year, you certainly don’t want to miss next year. Start your blog now, and keep your fingers crossed that you make the list. At the very least, start sucking up to your favorite L.A. blogger now, and maybe, just maybe, you can be his +1 for the best party of the year.