Mohawk Bend Finally Opens Tonight

The sign outside Mohawk Bend on Sunset and Alvarado in Echo Park has promised “Opening soon.  Very soon” for a few weeks now, and I’m very, very excited that it will finally open at 5pm today.  Mohawk Bend comes courtesy Tony Yanow, so if you’ve been to his excellent Tony’s Darts Away bar in Burbank, you’ll know what we can expect here: vegan-friendly eats and a damn great craft beer selection.

The bar is located in an old movie theater, completely rehabbed so what was once the lobby now houses a long bar, communal and non-communal tables, and an open kitchen.  Tony is vegan, so the menu is too (“60 percent vegan, 20-percent lacto/ovo vegetaria, and 20 percent meat” is how the press release describes it).  It’s dinner service only for now, but they hope (as do I) that they’ll start a brunch and lunch service soon.

Most important, though, is that beer.  There are 65 California craft beers on tap, 5 from out of state breweries, and a two-firkin cask system for those of you who are uber-serious about your ales.  And sweet, kind people behind the bar who can patiently explain the differences between an IPA and non-IPA and help you decide which pint(s) to try.

I was lucky enough to attend a preview event of the space two weeks ago and, believe you me, the space and the beer selection is fantastic.  See their photos of the space here, and see you there, soon.

Mohawk Bend, 2141 W. Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park; (213) 483-2337.

GTD This Weekend: LA Fetes Baja and Sammy Hagar

This weekend: Baja Night 2.0, post-St. Patrick’s Day beer-ing, and a little running.  Or not.

SATURDAY

  • The last time Ricky (of Ricky’s Fish Tacos) and Mexicali Taco Company teamed up at a parking lot downtown for Baja Night, everyone from families to foodies came together to nosh on giant lobster tacos (courtesy Ricky) and generous cachetadas (courtesy Mexicali).  The second edition of Baja Night (Baja Night 2.0) is on Saturday night, and Ricky promises more lobster tacos and a secret dish that he told me about here.  Eating Ensenada-style fish and meat tacos in a parking lot under the warm glow of the downtown skyline and the biggest, brightest moon since 1983.  If that’s not eating in LA, I don’t know what is.  $Pay as you go.  The night starts at 6pm at the parking lot on 1st and Beaudry.
  • My dog is not the only one celebrating a birthday on Saturday – The Egyptian Theater also is celebrating what would have been Sid Grauman’s 132nd birfday. Grauman found a few of the most iconic theaters in LA, including The Egyptian and the Chinese Theater.  There will be a lecture about his life and career, a birthday cake, and a screening of Forever Hollywood, a documentary about – guess! – Hollywood.  $9-11.  The party starts at 2pm at The Egyptian in Hollywood.
  • Beer is the new wine.  Finally.  Cases in point: not one, but three, events focused on the suds are scheduled for Saturday.  First, Angel City Brewery officially opens its doors downtown.  There will be beer, of course, and food trucks, of course.  Second, Bakelab and The Surly Goat will host a Beer & Pretzels Lab in which you will learn how to bake pretzels and how to pair said pretzels with beer.  And third, City Sip hosts a How to Home Brew class in which you will learn how to make an IPA.  Gives new meaning to BYOB.  Angel City Brewery’s party starts at noon at its new digs at 216 S. Alameda in the Arts District Downtown. $75 for Bakelab + Surly Goat’s class, which goes from noon to 3pm at Bakelab’s kitchen at 705 Vesta St., Inglewood. $50 for City Sip’s class, which starts at 1 at City Sip, 2150 Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park.
  • Descanso Gardens hosts the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  There will be Japanese tea ceremonies, cherry trees on sale, and guided walks through the beautiful grounds.  Given everything that’s happened, this event will likely take a somewhat somber tone.  :(  $3 children, $6 seniors/students, $8 adults.  From 10am to 5pm both Saturday and Sunday at the Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge.
  • Snow in LA?  No, I’m not talking about a few weeks ago.  Long Beach is having a Snow Day, hauling in 10 tons of fresh snow to a park for you and the kids.  Make snow art, go sledding, and pretend you won the lotto.  Free.  11am to 3pm at Whaley Park, 5620 Atherton Street in Long Beach.
  • MEN.  Make music.  Genderfucking.  $12.  8:30pm at the Echoplex in Echo Park.

SUNDAY

  • Runners will be taking their mark around 6am; the rest of us slackers will be sleeping and wake up to this interactive Google Mapped version to see what the runners have been doing all morning.  The LA Marathon runs (heh) from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica; check out the road closures and plan to sleep in accordingly.  Running from one side of town to another?  I guess that’s one way to save gas.
  • Non-runners, forget your guilt about being not being able to run one mile, much less 26.2, and just head over to Domaine LA’s Anti-Marathon tasting.  The wine shop will have a tasting, and the Get Your Lardon truck will be on hand with the bacon.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a few unexpected guests with their own bibs happened to show up on their way to the ocean.  1pm to 4pm at Domaine LA, 6801 Melrose Ave.
  • As it is the first day of spring, Griffith Observatory will hold two “Spring Equinox” events, one at precisely 1:01pm and another at 7:05pm.  I’m not sure what exactly these events will entail, but does it really matter?  A day at the observatory for any reason is a great day.  Free at the Griffith Observatory.
  • Sammy Hagar, the Van Halen frontman who defined rock for the ages, wrote a memoir.  It’s only fitting, then, that Hagar shows up on the Sunset Strip at Book Soup to sign copies of his rock odyssey, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock.  Note that this book is the only thing he’ll sign, so leave the pieces to your smashed axe at home.  5pm at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.
  • The Museum of Latin American Art celebrates the contributions of women in art with its annual Women’s Day Festival.  There will be workshops, food, music, poetry readings, and a spotlight on artisan female jewelry designers from Brazil and Mexico.  Best of all, the event is part of Target Free Sundays, meaning you get admission to the museum on Target’s dime.  Free.  1 to 4pm at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Avenue in Long Beach.

“Early Morning, Santa Monica” by Renee Rendler-Kaplan via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.

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?

Beer (as in Beer) Pong (as in Old Skool Video Game)

Tomorrow night a new era of Beer Pong will be upon us, with the inaugeration of Beer Pong 2.0.  Instead of all of the bouncing with real ping pong balls, all of the action will be virtual.  There’s still a slot or two open.

(And for the purists, there will be an old skool beer pong 1.0 table set up outside for anyone who just wants to play beer pong.)

It’s at Life on Wilshire, doors open at 8pm.

Sounds like a fun time and it’s change we all can believe in.