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Thursday, October 30, 2014

  • Photo courtesy Rainbeau Mars
Horror stories about apples with razor blades and anthrax-laced candy terrified trick-or-treaters in the 1980s and '90s. But this year, one Beverly Hills mom is purposely resurrecting the fear and paranoia surrounding trick-or-treating, with a modern spin.

Rainbeau Mars (and yes, that's her real name, according to her publicist, who says she was born in a teepee under a double rainbow) will be dishing out something really scary to trick-or-treaters in her gated community — live worms.

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A haunted restaurant is a thing of delight. - PHOTO BY JARED COWAN
  • Photo by Jared Cowan
  • A haunted restaurant is a thing of delight.
Forget mazes, rides, haunted hayrides and houses of horror with their hordes of mask-wearing actors providing cheap thrills. Instead, grab a drink at one of L.A.'s haunted restaurants — seven dining and drinking spots that all have real resident ghosts far spookier than most made-up macabre.

Befitting their age, most are downtown, but Hollywood and Long Beach also offer eerie places for your dining delight this spooky season.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


85C Now Open in Pasadena — to the Delight of Coffee Lovers

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Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Pastries at 85C Bakery Cafe - PHOTOS BY BARBARA HANSEN
  • Photos by Barbara Hansen
  • Pastries at 85C Bakery Cafe
Thirteen is a lucky number for Pasadena, which just acquired the 13th California outlet of the Taiwanese bakery cafe 85°C.

In case you’re not familiar with this chain—until now the closest branches were in Torrance and Gardena—the name indicates the perfect temperature for hot coffee. This leaves out the bakery cafe’s most famous beverage, sea salt coffee, which is served iced. The salt is in thick cream on a base of strong Guatemalan coffee. You shake it up before you drink. If you’re not a coffee drinker, you can have sea salt green tea.

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Mung Bean Jelly Noodle with Chili Sauce, Chengdu Taste, Alhambra - JIM THURMAN
  • Jim Thurman
  • Mung Bean Jelly Noodle with Chili Sauce, Chengdu Taste, Alhambra

Folks that have been in Los Angeles for a while know that fall still brings plenty of hot days with it. On days when highs near 90 in the San Gabriel Valley — which is the forecast for today — one of the best ways to beat the heat is with some cold noodles.

If you find yourself on the Eastside (the real Eastside) or are willing to make a short drive, here are three different cold noodle dishes and where to find them in the SGV.

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Butternut Squash and Sage Soup with Maple Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Gruyère  Croutons - HEATHER PLATT
  • Heather Platt
  • Butternut Squash and Sage Soup with Maple Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Gruyère Croutons
We've all been there. When we were kids it was trick or treating and sugar highs. Later, we found ourselves at out-of-control Halloween parties where, for some reason, wearing costumes empowered guests to behave erratically.

Now, you fancy the idea of a quiet night in handing out candy to lots of adorably dressed children. But your neighborhood is sadly not exactly trick-or-treat friendly and you usually end up eating that untouched bowl of Jujubes all by yourself. So if you have a “been there, done that” attitude towards the spooky holiday but still want to celebrate in a more relaxed way, there’s always the good old-fashioned dinner party. And what better time of year in Los Angeles than late October for an enchanting fall menu? Don't forget to remind your guests to wear a costume. It's still Halloween, after all.

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  • Photo by Ryan Orange
  • Lou Amdur
If we loved Lou Amdur's little wine shop when it was tucked in next door to Sqirl (and we did), we really love his new wine shop, 1.5 miles away in Los Feliz. With a much bigger selection and a tasting counter, it's a wine-geek's paradise, especially if you get Lou himself to start rhapsodizing about what's on the shelves. 

If you haven't had a chance to make it over there, there's a pretty great reason to go: Amdur, along with Santa Barabara sea urchin diver Stephanie Muntz, will be holding an uni and wine pairing/tasting tonight. You have to buy tickets in advance, and choose from a 6 or 7 p.m. time slot, but for $20 you get to taste four different wines along with your very own whole urchin. 

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Owner Denise Assad slices pumpkin pie. - C. SOUDRY
  • C. Soudry
  • Owner Denise Assad slices pumpkin pie.
At Bountiful Bakery in Montrose, owner Denise Assad is no stranger to early mornings (if you can even call them that): She wakes up at 3 a.m., makes her way to some Stumptown coffee and then heads to the kitchen where hours are spent kneading, twisting, stirring, pounding. The real fun begins around 9 a.m., when that buttery sweet aroma fills the air and customers trickle in to sample the goods.

"I try to bring back the time in my life when I was baking with my grandmother. Whatever I bake, that’s what I remember," says Assad. She stays true to tradition. Nothing is too sweet; there's lots of spice and lots of butter. "Butter satisfies the soul," Assad adds, "It's a taste of your youth, your family. That’s what I do. I bake to remember."

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  • Peter Ross/Courtesy Marcus Samuelsson
  • Marcus Samuelsson
Last week, Marcus Samuelsson released his latest book, Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home. As the title suggests, this is not a restaurant cookbook but rather a look at how a famous chef likes to cook for himself and his family (or in this case his gorgeous supermodel wife, Maya Haile).

But the home-cooked theme won't stop Samuelsson from serving these recipes in a restaurant setting, at least not while he's traveling around promoting the book. 

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The Frous Frous dish at mac-O-licious - PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Photo by Anne Fishbein
  • The Frous Frous dish at mac-O-licious

The menu tussle is one of those conversations we can't seem to stop having. "What are you going to have? The mackerel? I was going to get the fish, but if you're getting it, then I guess I'll get the steak." And so it goes.

For many people the point of dining out is choice: the notion that you can have something different from your tablemates. Eat at home, and everyone gets the same meal. Eat out, and part of the joy is variety.

Which is one reason the concept of a one-item restaurant is a little odd. Aside from foods you might share (like pizza) or things that have obvious potential for infinite variety (like burgers), the idea of such intentional deprivation is slightly counterintuitive.

Ah, but what potential for gimmickry. If it's sometimes hard to convey your business' concept and feel to potential customers, whose attention is likely to wander as soon as you mention "small plates" or "seasonal cooking" or whatever, focusing on one food certainly takes care of the marketing issue. It's a meatball restaurant! Who wouldn't remember a place with a branding that comes down to "balls"?

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Halloween candy for grown-ups at Williams Sonoma - S. BONAR
  • S. Bonar
  • Halloween candy for grown-ups at Williams Sonoma
The transition from tiny, gleeful candy-grabbing Miss Piggy to hoodied teenager sullenly knocking on neighbor's doors at 9 p.m. seeking Tootsie Roll dregs to cocktail-quaffing "sexy witch" is one of the bitterest rites of passage. But there's no reason you can't grow up and have your Halloween treats, too.

In fact, you can have more, because there's no mom glacially doling out your Halloween candy or telling you no, you can't have that pumpkin beer. Here are 10 treats to celebrate All Hallow's Eve — even if you're way too old to ring neighborhood doorbells. Some are fun for self-indulgence; some would make great gifts for that Halloween party your friends are throwing. All are ghoulish good fun.

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