Enchanted: Forest of Light and Culinary Delights

For the third year now, walk along a one-mile long pathway to see 10 beautiful areas in Descanso Gardens decorated with different luminescent experiences. Lights are projected onto water features, plants, and trees nightly until Jan. 6, 2019.

It’s an interactive, family fun time where guests can manipulate joy sticks to make the lights change, jump on colorful lit pads to change colors, and stand under grand oak trees to hear a symphony of sound.

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  1. Flower Power –Just like the tulips that appear every Spring at Descanso Gardens, the Promenade has hundreds of multi-colored tulip lights rising from the ground. They dazzle in waves with a rainbow of colors from white, pink, orange, red, green and blue.IMG_5774
  2. Rainbow Sycamores – see a swirl of colored lights illuminate ancient Sycamore trees. A wood platform with pillars changes colors by human touch.IMG_5786
  3. Starlight Garden features Celestial Shadows spinning polyhedrons by HYBYCOZO, Celestial Shadows by HYBYCOZO. It’s spectacular as the lighting spins around the rose garden.IMG_5799
  4. Lightwave Lake offers a dazzling light show on the lake. The lakehouse is open for holiday stocking stuffers and gifts. Nearby is the Enchanted Whiskey Bar for a classic signature cocktail, beer, wine and select Patina hot and cold drinks and snacks.IMG_5802
  5. Symphony of Oaks is where ancient live oak trees “sing” with color and sound. Guests can compose their own symphony of hues by stepping on the lit platforms under each majestic tree.IMG_5809
  6. Fantasy Forest has a beautiful Illuminated chandelier along the pathway. Descanso’s famous forests of camellias are lit up in gorgeous shades of color.
  7. Luminous Lawn featuring Aqueous by Jen Lewin also is another opportunity to purchase a beverage or a snack before moving on to the last three light displays. Kids and adults love the “Candy Bar” where they can choose a variety of nostalgic candies. This is where Maple beignets are sold, along with hot chocolate, beer, wine and a few snacks.
  8. Ancient Forest – find a bench and sit to admire trees aglow in a technicolor light show with sound. Under a canopy of towering redwoods, lights shine on tree ferns, cycads and ginkgoes from the Jurassic and Cretaceous period, millions of years ago.
  9. Pixel Grove has glowing reeds of prismatic lights illuminating the lilac garden.
  10. Garden of Good Fortune is filled with hundreds of brilliant reds lanterns. Walk past trickling streams of water in the iconic Japanese Garden to the Garden of Good Fortune. Glowing red lanterns contrast with the traditional blue and green colors in Descanso’s Japanese Garden filled with plants that originated in Asia. Not only are the camellias blooming, but the garden has black pines, mondo grass, flowering cherry trees and Japanese maples. There is a stroll garden, stream-and-pond garden, tea garden, and raked-gravel garden (karesansui).

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Maple has undergone a full interior refresh and Chef Philip Mack of Patina Restaurant Group is preparing a soulful Enchanted: Forest of Light menu now through January 6, 2019. The new Maple Restaurant at Descanso Gardens The special seasonal menu is available exclusively to Enchanted ticket holders before or after exploring the Forest of Light. A la carte items include a warm farro salad; baked mac and cheese; Maryland fried chicken with blue crab stuffed beignets; Whiskey short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes; mushroom and cheese tortellini; Tomahawk pork rib chop with sweet potato and collard green gratin; and herb broiled salmon with roasted root vegetables.

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Enchanted: Forest of Light Winter Cafe is a more casual and affordable dining venue offering a variety of hot and cold items. The menu even offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes. Starters include chili, butternut squash or chicken noodle soup. There is a Cobb and grain salad, short rib and Gruyere sandwiches, hot dogs and chicken tenders for little ones.

For dinner and Enchanted reservations, go to https://www.descansogardens.org/programs-events/enchanted/. 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge (818)949-4200.

Enchanted: Forest of Light runs daily from 5:30 to 10pm, November 18, 2018 – January 6, 2019. Enchanted: Forest of Light is closed on November 22 (Thanksgiving), December 24 (Christmas Eve), and December 25 (Christmas Day).

Celebrating the seasons at Café Pinot

Entering on Grand Ave., I found my group of friends out on the beautiful garden patio sitting under twinkle lights strung in trees. Heaters kept us warm as we ordered a variety of items off Executive Chef Phillip Martin menu. Before heading up the kitchen at one of Patina Restaurant Group’s prettiest dining venues, Chef Martin was a chef at the group’s flagship, Patina and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

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Raised in East L.A., Chef Martin learned how to cook essentially from his father, a baker. His fondest memories were sitting outside with his dad watching him grill meat for a family dinner. While at Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Martin interned at Drago in L.A. and Bouley in TriBeCa, New York City. When he returned to California, he was the chef de partie at Red Medicine in Beverly Hills, cooked alongside chef Ludo Lefebvre at LudoBites pop-ups, worked as a line cook at The Bazaar by José Andrés and became a sous chef at Alma. With all this experience, he now is in charge at Cafe Pinot.

To celebrate the autumn season, Martin recently unveiled a new menu highlighting fall flavors and a selection of comforting housemade pastas, vegetable forward small plates and savory proteins.

We each started with one of Cafe Pinot’s cocktails with names that include Double Black Manhattan, Heart of the Pina and Lavender Night. I selected the Sorbet Beret made with Absolute Elyx vodka, hibiscus flower tea and French wine-based aperitif lillet. It arrived in a tall glass full of ice with a pretty cranberry hue. This pleasing pink drink was garnished with a raspberry and orange slice.

The first starter to arrive was a bright pink hamachi crudo made with watermelon cubes compressed in a lot of mint. Sliced red Fresno peppers and tomatoes added additional color, while mint leaves offered a pop of green color into the bowl. There was a pleasing kalamansi citrus broth, that tasted like a cross between tangerine and kumquat. It was as sweet as lemon, as acidic as lime, as bitter as pink grapefruit and also offered a hint of passion fruit. 

Thick slices of French bread were served on wooden planks with pats of butter. Also on a wooden board were small dark Little Gem green leaves. Underneath was Australian beef tartare mixed with jicama, mushroom confit, tarragon and a slightly burnt tangerine aioli.

A fennel salad arrived with slices of ripe pear, crushed hazelnuts, crumbled Humboldt fog cheese and crushed black pepper. It was a favorite around the table.

The one dish I didn’t try, yet others enjoyed were the crispy lamb sweetbreads enhanced with goats milk yogurt, sliced cucumber, leeks, mint and cumin.

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The real star at Cafe Pinot is the pasta. We tried the cilantro chitarra, a thin, green pasta with a sprinkling of salty cotija cheese. Next to the noodles, the dish arrived with an array of perfectly cooked vegetables, including sliced yellow and green squash, red pepper and corn. “I could eat this daily,” said Martin. I could too. This dish is heavenly.

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Another stellar pasta was his tomato agnolotti stuffed with fresh ricotta and tomato water infused with basil. Heirloom cherry tomatoes adorn the bowl and creme fraiche tops this dish. Agrumato oil is drizzled on top to give the fresh flavors a spike of citrus notes.img_2856

The most interesting pasta was the squid ink fettuccine topped with bread crumbs, garlic and chili flakes giving the smooth pasta a bit of texture. It’s finished with a row of shrimp on the side, adding scampi flavors.

My favorite protein was the steak au poivre with creamy confit fingerling potatoes, bite-sized heirloom pearl onions, and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. What made this dish spectacular were the shishito peppers soaked in this glorious steak sauce.

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Other proteins delivered to the table included seared salmon served with fingerling potatoes and shimeji mushrooms that offered pleasant, firm, and slightly nutty flavor. On the bottom of the bowl was a green hued buttermilk nasturtium sauce.

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The most visually appealing entree was the sliced duck breast served on a bed of crunchy quinoa, sliced figs, charred fig jam and five-spice pho broth. What decorated this dish and added to additional savoriness was an egg cooked at 64.5 degrees. Piercing the egg with a knife, the yolk blended in with the flavorful pho broth. It was divine.

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Dessert was an interactive experience that involved vaporing dry ice as Chef Martin stirred a large silver bowl, similar to a cauldron. Unfortunately the frozen foie gras on top of a caramelized banana brûlée with chopped hazelnut and maple sable was my least favorite dish of the evening.

Next time I will order the Devil’s food cake with glazed cherries, almond and spiced caramel chantilly.

With the winter theatre season approaching, Cafe Pinot offers a two-course pre-theatre for $42 per person. The menu features the Hamachi crudo, crispy lamb sweetbreads, or fennel salad that I enjoyed as a first course. Entree’s include rotisserie Jidori chicken, beef tenderloin, market fish or a vegetarian arborio rice porridge with foraged mushrooms, cauliflower, corn and shaved black truffle. Cafe Pinot promises to have diners in and out before the show, plus they offer complimentary parking for pre-theatre guests.

Address: 700 West 5th St. Enter on 535 S Grand Ave.  (213) 239-6500.

Hours: Monday 11:30AM-2:30PM, Tuesday-Thursday 11:30AM-9PM, Friday 11:30AM-10PM and Saturday 5PM-10PM.

This review is featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – 

 

Lin-Manuel Miranda & his father Luis

Sitting center stage at the Geffen Playhouse, Broadway sensation and Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his father Luis A. Miranda Jr., enlightened the audience for 90 minutes about theatre, Puerto Rico and Lin-Manuel’s new movie role in Mary Poppins with moderator Soledad O’Brien. Together this father and son team are very entertaining.

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Photo courtesy of Geffen Playhouse

O’Brien: You are actively supporting the relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Tell us what you are doing?

Lin-Manuel: In the way of Maria, what began as where is my family? It took five days to finally reach our family. Then became how can I help the island. I amplify what I hear on the island and navigate from there. I have no political interest, I just want the island of Puerto Rico to be proud of me. Just like they did when I brought “In the Heights” to the island. It was the most creative week in my life. Since my father is in the political world, the Governor of Puerto Rico called up my dad after he saw ‘In the Heights’ to find out who was his son. I didn’t grow up in Puerto Rico, I just spent summers on the island. While growing up in New York, I felt different than other kids in Puerto Rico, because I spoke funny. When they noticed and embraced me in ‘In the Heights’ it was a proud moment. We would do a prayer circle before every show. A cast member in the show, Pricilla Lopez who played Camilla, told me – ‘You are throwing a rock in the pool and you have no idea how the ripples will come back to you.

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O’Brien: Tell us about the delay of bringing Hamilton to Puerto Rico?

Lin-Manuel: After Maria, there were no roofs on any theatres. I’ve been wanting to bring the show to Puerto Rico since 2015. We took the harder path to update and rebuild the theatre to become a state-of-the-art facility at the University of Puerto Rico. The theatre needed a ton of work, including a new roof, before we could perform our show. Puerto Rico is looking for heroes. It’s a message in Hamilton that I hope the islanders can take away from the show. We take the show to a small island, the most coveted show ever, to make the people in Puerto Rico feeI special. Their recent experience with the devastation of Hurricane Maria echos Hamilton. When I read Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton, I didn’t know that a hurricane destroyed St. Croix and people on the island raised money to send Hamilton off the island to do better things.

O’Brien: Why did you get so involved in helping Puerto Rico? How are you raising money?

LIn-Manuel: I just have a megaphone to get the island noticed. We will perform Hamilton for three weeks from Jan. 8-27, 2019, at the Teatro UPR in San Juan. Proceeds will benefit artists, musicians, and traveling theatre groups on the island. If you are running a traveling theatre group in Puerto Rico, that is hard work. You are working a job during the day, traveling and performing at night. We have their backs to do what they need to do for three years. Giving sits in my gut and doesn’t want to leave me alone. When it keeps me up at night, that’s when I act. Both my father and I went to the Mayors in all the towns of Puerto Rico to find out their needs after the hurricane. When it’s gnawing on you and you let everything in, if something affects you – injustice, something that needs love, it’s a calling for you to act on it. I started the nonprofit,The Flamboyan Arts Fund dedicated to preserving, amplifying, and sustaining the arts and youth education in Puerto Rico.

O’Brien: Tell us how people can get tickets to see Hamilton in Puerto Rico?

Lin-Manuel: There are $10 tickets in the lottery and tickets up to $5,000 to help with the arts fund. There are only a few left at $5000.

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Luis: Then they will go up to $10,000 and $15,000.

Lin-Manuel: We want to raise $15 million dollars.

O’Brien: Are you ready to play Hamilton again?

Lin-Manuel: It’s been two and a half years since I played the role. My problem is that I go back to every draft in my head. When my wife and I saw a performance of the show in London, I realized lines had changed. For the first time I listened to the cast album to help get ready for my performance. 

O’Brien: Luis did you always know your son would be a performer?

Luis: I wanted him to be a lawyer, because he was good with words. Lin-Manuel has one of the most incredible minds. During a filming of 60 Minutes at my house, he looked at my big vinyl collection and picked the Camelot album. He said “I will tell you where it skips.” He hadn’t played the record in 25 years, yet he remembered exactly where it skips.

Lin-Manuel: We used to listen to that record so many times as a family.

Luis: I knew he would be a writer as a child. He was making flip books, and when he visited Puerto Rico, his grandfather borrowed the bank’s video camera so Lin-Manuel could make movies.

Lin-Manuel: A teacher in 8th grade inspired me to write after I turned in an essay about Stephen King’s book “It”. My teacher wrote “You have been hibernating in my class unless the subject interests you. I hope you wake up for Spring Semester.” He encouraged me to join an on campus theatre club called Brick Prison and write for them.

O’Brien: How is Puerto Rico today?

Luis: San Juan is doing well, however as you drive farther away there is more need. The coffee growers are trying to redo from scratch. Coffee doesn’t grow back in a month, it takes up to five years.

Lin-Manuel: Puerto Rico is so proud of their coffee.
Luis: The majority of coffee on the island is from small farms, about 70% is from small farms with just several acres. The only way to grow coffee is from seeds, and the island needs seeds, so we reached out to Starbucks.

Lin-Manuel: Starbucks has millions of seeds.

Luis: Since it is against the law to bring seeds to Puerto Rico, we had to hire lobbyists to work with the Republicans to get approval, so Starbucks seeds could be planted in Puerto Rican earth. It will take 3 to 5 years to grow coffee again. If we don’t start today, it will take longer.

O’Brien: Luis are you proud of Lin-Manuel starring in Mary Poppins?

Luis: I didn’t like the first movie in 1964. I was 9 years old and loved Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, however the year it came out, Andrews was doing My Fair Lady on Broadway. Andrews robbed Debbie Reynolds of an Oscar in The Unsinkable Molly Brown and I was so upset. I was annoyed with Mary Poppins my entire life. When I heard Lin-Manuel was in Mary Poppins, I was pleased. When my kids are doing something fantastic, I approve.

O’Brien: Lin-Manuel weren’t you performing in Hamilton when you were cast in Mary Poppins?

Lin-Manuel: Yes, Rob Marshall took me across the street for a drink after seeing me in a matinee show of Hamilton and pitched me the role of Jack. I first asked who would play Mary Poppins, when Marshall said Emily Blunt, I thought that was brilliant. I had to check with my wife, because she makes the decisions. I never wanted to leave Hamilton and my home in New York, yet my wife loves to travel and wanted to live in England.

O’Brien: What was it like working with Rob Marshall?

Lin-Manuel: I loved his work turning the musical Chicago into a film. Working with Rob Marshall was like being in film school.

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Photo courtesy of Geffen Playhouse

O’Brien: Locally in Southern California you offered acts of kindness by sponsoring a group of Cal State Channel Islands theatre students today. How did this happen?

Lin-Manuel:  These college theatre students were about to put on ‘In the Heights’ and then the Malibu fires started and their show was cancelled due to evacuations. They reached out to Gil Cates Jr. at the Geffen Playhouse and my team when they learned my dad and I would be in town. We are happy to have them here today.

O’Brien: Who is in the cast for the upcoming Hamilton?

Lin-Manuel: The cast is almost all new. This is the third national tour, and we cast this with a few from Broadway, others from the national tour company and then some new performers. After three weeks in Puerto Rico, the show will go to San Francisco. It’s a mix of old and new. Some have done Broadway, some have toured and some are new. The success of Hamilton is about seeing yourself in someone else’s story. When you walk a mile in someone else shoes they don’t become an “other.”

To purchase tickets for Hamilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, go to Flamboyanartsfund.org.

The stars align at Beverly Hills Ocean Prime

While sitting on the elegant al fresco terrace near a DJ spinning lively tunes, one of my favorite actors and singers Daveed Diggs passed by my table with actress and singer Emmy Raver-Lampman. For Hamilton fans, this is seeing musical royalty. Not only did Diggs play Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette in the original Hamilton cast on Broadway, but now stars in the television show blackish as Rainbow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) brother. Actress and singer Raver-Lampman rocked the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood as Angelica Schuyler starring in Hamilton’s touring company. One never knows who they might spot while dining at Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills.

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During pleasantly warm days and evenings, diners request sitting in the half-shell shaped booths with comfortable black and white throw pillows. An array of large white umbrellas shade guests and add to the vacation ambiance.

While looking at the new brunch menu, our personable server asked if we would like a bottomless mimosa or Bloody Mary. Since mimosas can be ordered with either fresh orange or blood orange juice, my husband and I ordered one of each.

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There is a section of appealing dishes that included lobster and avocado toast, where the spotlight is butter poached lobster pieces strategically placed on a creamy sweet pea and avocado spread. The perfectly cooked sunny side egg’s yolk bathes the toast when cut, adding a touch of savoriness to the earthy flavors. A side salad of arugula with pickled red onions and preserved lemon accompany the plate.

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Our daughter ordered the jumbo lump crab cake and eggs presented on a thick English muffin. The crab meat and poached egg were covered with a light yellow Hollandaise sauce and sprinkle of paprika. It was served with a small bowl of cut pineapple and cantaloupe, and a small mixed green salad with a pleasing balsamic vinaigrette. 

Seeing friends sitting nearby, they urged us to order the braised short rib “Surf n Turf.” They said it was the perfect size, not too large, yet filled with wonderful flavors. 

When we ordered it, it arrived stacked with the bottom layer a crispy gouda potato cake, almost like a thick latke, before being topped with tender, melt in your mouth slow braised short ribs. On top was a large butter poached lobster claw (sometimes sea scallops), then a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. 

Other brunch dishes include an everything bagel with smoked salmon and the fixings; ahi tuna tartare; Prime steak tartare, a variety of sushi and salads, Prime cheeseburger and a quiche with spinach, provolone and parmesan.

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Desiring something sweet, we ordered the French toast served with candied sweet and crunchy bacon on the side. The toast was topped with fresh and sweet red and purple berries, and a ladle of lemon curd. A small carafe on the plate was filled with warm maple syrup.

Later on Sundays, the chefs prepare a multi-course special Surf & Turf dinner for $60 per person. For the holidays, purchase a $100 eGift card and receive a $25 eBonus card now through December 30, 2018. The eBonus card is valid for use at any Cameron Mitchell Restaurant’s location nationwide, Sunday through Thursdays, starting January 2, 2019 and expires February 28, 2019. 

Ocean Prime is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday starting at 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Fridays, Ocean Prime stays open until 11 p.m. On weekends it opens at 5 p.m. Sunday Brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ocean Prime is closed on Thanksgiving. $$-$$$. 9595 Wilshire Blvd. (310)859-4818.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – Nov. 21, 2018.

 

Thanksgiving Dining specials

For those who enjoy spending free time outside or doing something else other than spending your entire day in a kitchen cooking a Thanksgiving feast, here are 16 dining destinations open on Thanksgiving Day. Check out some spots to pick up a pie to bring to a family or friend’s home.

  1. Merry Thanksgiving at Mari – On Thursday, Nov. 22, enjoy a prix-fixe dinner menu for $55 per person from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Meet family and friends staying at the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City in the lobby’s Copper Lounge for a special cocktail before dinner at Mari. Diners get a choice of either roasted kabocha squash soup or roasted Bosc pear and endive salad. Entrées include slow-roasted turkey with trimmings or herb-crusted, slow-roasted prime rib with horseradish-whipped potatoes, charred broccolini, rosemary demi-glace or salt-baked salmon with beet risotto and a roasted fennel purée. Finish with either a pumpkin tart with pear sorbet or a chocolate hazelnut flourless cake with caramel, orange and praline. 2151 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, (310)284-6536.
  2. Veggie Grill Plant-based Thanksgiving – The healthy, fast-casual brand makes celebrating with family easy by offering festive dishes in store. For a simpler Thanksgiving with all the flavors, the chefs are making a $11.50 Thanksgiving sandwich made with layers of rosemary chicken with cornbread dressing, creamy mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce and Vegenaise, an egg-free mayonnaise, on a hearty roll and served with mashed yams. Veggie Grill is open on Thanksgiving from noon to 11 p.m. 6374 Sunset Blvd., Ste. A, Los Angeles, (323)962-3354, and from noon to 8 p.m. at 110 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323)933-3997.
  3.  Hassle-free Turkey Day at Del Frisco’s Grille – Head to the beach to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings on Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. This ocean side restaurant overlooking the Santa Monica Pier is offering a three-course traditional turkey dinner, with no clean up afterward. Family style signature fall items include roasted butternut squash bisque, herb and citrus butter roasted turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, and pumpkin cheesecake. 1551 Ocean Ave. Suite 105 (310)395-7333.
  4. Thanksgiving at Barton G – This whimsical dining destination is serving a three-course, prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner. The restaurant’s unique presentations will be prepared with classic Thanksgiving ingredients. A roasted acorn squash salad is served before the herb-roasted turkey breast with confit leg and cranberry-walnut stuffing, maple-roasted root vegetable with crumbled cornbread, whipped celery root and Yukon Gold potatoes, and a brown butter and Frangelico sweet potato casserole. Finish with pumpkin and apple beignets served with  cranberry jam, pumpkin butter and orange anglaise. $75 per person. 861 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (310)388-1888.
  5.  Hotel Shangri-La Thanksgiving Feast – Join others for the annual Thanksgiving buffet at Hotel Shangri-La. Take the elevator up to The Penthouse for unobstructed ocean views with indoor or outdoor seating. There are over 20 culinary offerings including herb butter slow cooked turkey, spiced boneless rib eye, brown butter poached salmon with root vegetables, cold seafood display, and green beans almondine. Executive Chef Jessica Bedolla will also be serving pumpkin pie, homemade bread pudding, and chocolate cake from 12 to 6 p.m. Following the festive meal, diners are invited to enjoy a digestif across the hall at ONYX, Santa Monica’s first indoor/outdoor rooftop bar. The price is $79 for adults and $45 for children 6 – 12 years old. 1301 Ocean Ave. (310)394-2791.
  6. Thanksgiving at Barton G – This whimsical dining destination is serving a three-course, prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner. The restaurant’s unique presentations will be prepared with classic Thanksgiving ingredients. A roasted acorn squash salad is served before the herb-roasted turkey breast with confit leg and cranberry-walnut stuffing, maple-roasted root vegetable with crumbled cornbread, whipped celery root and Yukon Gold potatoes, and a brown butter and Frangelico sweet potato casserole. Finish with pumpkin and apple beignets served with  cranberry jam, pumpkin butter and orange anglaise. $75 per person. 861 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (310)388-1888.
  7. Granville Gives Back To Fire Fighters – Granville is offering free meals for any rescue workers, law enforcement officers and fire fighters now through Friday, Nov. 23. While at Granville be sure to order a Medicina cocktail. Granville is also donating 100% of proceeds of every Medicina ordered to the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Disaster Relief Fund until Friday, Nov. 23. 8701 Beverly Blvd. (424)522-5161, 12345 Ventura Blvd. (818)506-7050, 807 Americana Way (818)550-0472 and 121 N. San Fernando Blvd. (818)848-4726.
  8. Viviane Beverly Hills’ Thanksgiving – Chef Michael Reed will prepare a poolside Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu for those looking to dine out on the holiday. For $65 per person, guests can enjoy a three-course menu highlighting Thanksgiving classics such as butternut squash soup, garlic mashed potatoes, traditional brioche bread stuffing and roasted Brussels sprouts with dates and pumpkin seeds. For the main course, guests can choose from slow-roasted turkey, roast beef or stuffed portobello mushroom. Dessert options include a mini pumpkin pie or mini Granny Smith apple pie. The menu will be available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. alongside a limited selection of à la carte dishes from the regular Viviane menu. Guests are encouraged to make reservations in advance. 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., (310)277-5221.
  9. ‘Season to Soar’ at the InterContinental – Enjoy a Dekkadance buffet and bottomless sparkling rosé or mimosas on Thanksgiving from noon to 6 p.m. The meal is $95 for adults and $45 for children ages 5 to 12. Afterwards, an à la carte menu will be offered from 6 to 10 p.m. Additionally, “Season to Soar” is back at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown with hotel-wide specials on select menu items. Enjoy s’mores with homemade marshmallows, graham crackers and milk chocolate bars at Spire 73, and a portion of the $18 dessert will be donated to support Alzheimer’s Association Southland Chapter throughout November and December. The November “Season to Soar” cocktail, Winter is Coming, is made with Eagle Rare bourbon, Amaro Montenegro, apple juice, cinnamon syrup and lemon juice, garnished with nutmeg and dried apple. It’s available at Spire 73, La Boucherie, Lobby Lounge, Dekkadance and Sora. Pick up pre-ordered, house-made pumpkin or pecan pie, assorted truffles and macarons now through Dec. 30. Two-day advanced notice are required for truffles and macarons, and three-day advanced notice are required for pies. 900 Wilshire Blvd., (213)688-7777.
  10.  Family-style holiday prix-fixe at Craft – Craft Los Angeles will offer a prix-fixe feast from chef de cuisine Denis Crutchfield who will blend traditional holiday plates with Craft favorites. Guests begin with seasonally driven starters, such as pork belly with celery root, and then can choose from roasted organic free-range turkey, Angus beef short ribs, seafood or pasta dishes. An assortment of sides such as sausage and raisin stuffing, and Brussels sprouts will also be available. Pastry chef Shannon Swindle is baking classic and reimagined fall desserts, including a pumpkin pecan cheesecake and apple sticky pudding. The cost is $145 per person with an additional $65 for an optional wine pairing. Reservations will be available for 1 to 8 p.m. 10100 Constellation Blvd., Los Angeles, (310)279-4180.
  11.  Lawry’s The Prime Rib to-go – This Thanksgiving, bring Lawry’s traditional prime rib and turkey dinners home. The turkey holiday feast includes classic Lawry’s sides such as creamed corn, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, along with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Prime rib dinners to-go will also be available with signature side offerings and Yorkshire pudding batter to bake fresh at home. Desserts available à la carte include apple and pumpkin pies, as well as C.C. Brown’s hot fudge sauce so diners can recreate the famous sundae at home. To place an order, visit bit.ly/2zISzoE. 100 La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310)652-2827.
  12. NoMad Thanksgiving – NoMad Los Angeles in downtown will offer a $59 holiday prix-fixe menu alongside its regular à la carte menu for dine-in guests only. The set menu begins with the choice of butternut squash soup or puntarelle salad, followed by roasted turkey breast or the famous NoMad whole-roasted chicken with black truffle. Family-style sides, including stuffing, potato purée, crispy Brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce will be offered as well. An apple cobbler with brown sugar crumble and vanilla ice cream brings the meal to a sweet close. For reservations, visit bit.ly/2z3C5YH. 649 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, (213)358-0000.
  13. Thanksgiving with all the trimmings from Du-par’s – Sit back and spend time with your family instead of cooking on Thanksgiving. Order an individual meal with turkey and trimmings or a feast for up to 10 people. For those who prefer to cook their own turkey, pick up the trimmings, sides and a pie or two for dessert. 6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles, (323)933-8446.
  14.  Huckleberry Bakery & Café is having a Pop-up on Nov. 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pick up your catering order and Esters will be there with a sidewalk sale selling some wine for your Thanksgiving table. There will be Champagne, Riesling, Beaujolais and more to pair perfectly with turkey and the fixings. Esters Wine Shop & Bar will have pre-packaged boxes for last-minute host gifts. On Black Friday until Cyber Monday, enjoy 20% off all Esters Wine Club Memberships. From Savvy Sipper to Adventurer to Collector, there’s a club for any budget. 1014 Wilshire Blvd. 
  15. Winston Pies for Thanksgiving – Special holiday pie flavors at Winston Pies include harvest apple, fall pumpkin, classic southern pecan, Twix and a very original cranberry orange chess pie. They also offer gluten-free and vegan options. The pies are 11 inches, perfect for larger gatherings. The shop also makes five-inch mini pies, and small PieBites are available for $20 a dozen. Place your order online and pick it up at the West Hollywood location by Wednesday, Nov. 21, or the Brentwood location by noon on Thursday, Nov. 22. 8366 W. Third St., Los Angeles, (323)925-4743. 11678 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, (310)207-5743.
  16. Homeboy Bakery pies – Enjoy handmade, nine-inch pies made by the dedicated homeboys and homegirls of the Homeboy Industries Bakery for your Thanksgiving feast. Choose from pumpkin, apple or pecan. The pies are made to order and baked in a small-batch kitchen in downtown Los Angeles with an all-butter crust and high-quality ingredients. To place an order, visit bit.ly/2DBdL4m. Pickup at Homegirl Cafe by Nov. 21. The social programs by Homeboy Industries help provide jobs to people wishing to change their lives. 130 Bruno St., (888)341-1422.This was also featured in the Beverly Press on Nov. 15, 2018

Caley Cosmetics – A Mother and Daughter Favorite

Yesterday Kate and I had the opportunity to meet another mother and daughter team – Annie and Cindy Holland-Rodriguez, founders of Caley Cosmetics. It’s a third generation beauty company and family affair.

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Momma Annie worked with her mother Sue Holland to help women look and feel their best while selling cosmetics. This passion was passed down to Cindy. After earning a degree in Product Development and a B.S. in Business at FIDM in Los Angeles, Cindy worked as a designer in the fashion industry. After a couple years, she moved back to San Antonio, Texas to be part of her mom’s Caley Cosmetics team.

Both mom and daughter are natural beauties who wear Caley  natural makeup to highlight their pretty features. Annie is the technician who works in the lab with her son. They opened their lab in 2016, and became an eco-friendly facility in 2017. This year they launched their beauty line.

Walking into their pop-up on Robertson Blvd., in Beverly Hills, I noticed Cindy’s product development flair and touches created a festive and fun with a vacation vibe. There was a table of tasty treats that included fresh fruit kabobs and donuts adorned with pineapple crowns.

Annie invited us over to her table to help us make our own personal lip gloss. There were scallop shells filled with a variety of different hue mineral powders and little essence bottles filled with natural flavors to give the lip gloss pizzazz.

At another table, Cindy offered advice on the perfect lipstick shade, eye liner and eye brow pencil and lip liner for Kate snd me. Kate had so much fun finding the perfect shades for her skin coloring.

Here’s 5 Things  we like about Caley Cosmetics –

  1. Caley natural beauty products only use ingredients that score a 1 or 2 on the EWG toxicity scale in order to create products that are 100% safe.
  2. They are certified Leaping Bunny, because they believe animals are for cuddling, not for testing.
  3. Their products are made without any sulfates, phthalates, petroleum, artificial dyes, artificial fragrance and-parabens.
  4. No toxins allowed in their beauty line.
  5. The lipsticks and lip gloss smell and taste so good.IMG_5158

To learn more about Annie, Cindy and Caley Cosmetics, read their blog 

 

 

The Bitter Game at The Wallis in Beverly Hills – Rise to the voice of the unheard

Last night my daughter and I entered the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts theatre to see THE BITTER GAME. As we picked up our tickets, we were told to go back outside to the The Wallis’ Promenade Terrace.  This was the first time I have ever watched a show outside under bright lights.

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As we handed our tickets to a Wallis usher, we noticed the words “Da Block is Hot” and hopscotch drawn in chalk on the terrace concrete. There was a basketball hoop and two basketballs for audience members to shoot some hoops before the show. Tables were set with checkers and other games near a DJ spinning lively tunes.

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This “high-impact” immersive theater experience is the work of playwright and talented actor Keith A. Wallace. He is only in Beverly Hills for four nights, from Wednesday, November 14 through Saturday, November 17, 2018.

Wallace portrays multi-characters in his one-man performance that is divided into five acts, structured as the four quarters and overtime of a basketball game.

He shares with his audience the story of Jamel Smith, first as an 8-year-old boy at a block party in North Philly. We are all part of the party as he paints a picture of the neighborhood, music and food at the party with his poetic words. One can almost feel the heat and humidity as he describes the 20-foot high jet stream of water shooting straight into the air. “It’s a blessing on a hot and sticky afternoon.” Looking up there are old sneakers hanging on phone wires, and the audience can almost smell the barbecue food he describes.

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Then young Jamel witnesses a neighborhood act of violence and during the second quarter he takes on the role of Jamel’s mother teaching her 8-year-old son on how his life has changed. Now he must learn to navigate his interactions with police. His words speak to the audience on a personal and universal level. This is the power of storytelling and live theater.

Third quarter we follow Wallace as he is transformed into a college student at Vassar, who comes back home for his mother’s 50th birthday party. Renting a car to drive to the party, Jamel feels good wearing “new shoes that feel like they will take him somewhere.” He shares with the audience that black kids get new shoes twice a year, first at the beginning of a school year and then at Easter. Getting new shoes is a big deal.

Suddenly Jamel notices a police car, and within minutes it’s following behind him. One could hear a pin drop as Jamel panics and recites the steps his mother’s instructions ingrained into him  – “Head up, eyes forward, ego down, keep your hands visible, forget pride, do everything a policeman tells you, Don’t ask why, always comply.” It’s a Bitter Game for young black lives. With anxiety mounting, we watch this beautiful young man crumble and our hearts grow heavy watching the injustice black men and women face daily.

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The last quarter and overtime is filled with flowing tears as Wallace hands audience members candles and orders us to recite the names of young men and women “snapped from their mommas.” Whatever happens to these kids should matter to all of us.

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Wallace ends the show saying, “The murder of Michael Brown in 2014 was a public display, in the way that public lynching used to take place as a warning sign, and display of white power and supremacy. All of the mothers rendered childless from these situations are thrust into the spotlight and not afforded the same opportunities to mourn and grieve in the same way other mothers are. I got tired of seeing black people murdered by police with impunity, and it was time for a reckoning.”

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Wallace hopes the play will eventually reach beyond the theater to be used as a tool of sensitivity training for law enforcement and performed with schools and communities reflected in the story. A BITTER GAME is based on Wallace’s youth in Philadelphia, and is co-created by Deborah Stein, and directed by Malika Oyetimein. This brilliant show will open your eyes and heart to the injustice in our world.

Wear warm attire and comfortable shoes, as you will stand throughout the show. There are a few chairs for those who need to sit. This show is appropriate for children 13 years and older due to strong language.

A post-show discussion takes place immediately after the Friday, November 16 performance. A sign language-interpreted performance is held on Saturday, November 17.

Single tickets are $40. Visit TheWallis.org, call 310.746.4000, or stop by in person at  the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services Office located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

 

Impacting Lives through Art

Imagine walking through the halls of your school and seeing brightly colored uplifting words: BE Positive, BE Kind and Thoughtful spotlighted on a wall. On November 13, the fast casual Mediterranean flavorful and healthy restaurant brand CAVA  sponsored renown muralist Ruben Rojas to help them paint and beautify some of the walls at Jackson Elementary School in Altadena, CA.

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Cava employees volunteered to paint with Rojas, along with Nicole Landers Head of Business Development for Zola providing healthy coconut and sparkling waters, and Adam Von Rothfelder, the founder & CEO offering cups of his Strong Coffee.

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Meeting Mike Schibel Brand Manager of CAVA, he shared with me – Be positive, kind and thoughtful are also the principals at their 75 restaurant nationwide. Schibel introduced me to Rojas wearing a t-shirt with the words “Beautify Walls.”

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I discovered this native Californian started his journey studying pre-med, and then going into Real Estate and financial planning.  A friend noticed Rojas doodling on paper in his office and encouraged him to share his creativity and art with the world.

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Students at Jackson Elementary helped Rojas paint

Rojas is a co-founder of Beautify Earth and his murals bring messages of love, inspiring social change and transforming communities. Standing next to Rojas, he showed me some of his art on his Instagram @rubenrojas. One was his colorful mural messages: “You belong here” painted on a wall in San Antonio Texas. Another “Imagine A World Without Them: Whale” on a wall in Ventura, CA, “This one represents the mother orca whale who carried her dead calf on her back for more than two weeks, to prevent her baby from sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor,” said Rojas.

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Want to sponsor Ruben to help you make that difference in your own workspace? How about enhance a neighborhood you live or help change someone’s world? This artist can help spread your message through art, and make a lasting impact in the world. Contact him by going to his website – Ruben Rojas.

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Italian Food & Art at Luigi al Teatro

The Chateau Paintings displayed at Michelin-starred chef Luigi Fineo’s restaurant Luigi al Teatro, adds to the theatrics of the Santa Monica California seafood with a Southern Italian flair menu.

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Michelin-starred chef Luigi Fineo

Luigi al Teatro has an artistic past as once the historic Powerhouse Theatre. Inside the dining room on the walls are painted faces of actors looking towards the kitchen where Executive Chef Luigi Fineo prepares his Italian specialities. Outside on the al fresco dining patio, art is the focal point among greenery and a wall of herbs for the chef to cultivate and use for sauces, garnish and decoration.

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Artist Lisa Gizara

A few weeks ago, I met resident artist Lisa Gizara during her art opening reception at Teatro di Luigi in Santa Monica. While sipping Prosecco, Gizara shared with me her “once in a lifetime” experience in France at The Chateau Orquevaux. “The chateau was about 3.5 hours East of Paris, between Champagne and Dijon,” said Gizara. “I would wake up in the morning, look out my window and feel so lucky.”

IMG_4443Her two week residency brought her close to other artists from around the world. The 2018 Artist-in-Residence program received applicants from artists in over 25 countries including Canada, South Africa, and Egypt. There is a two-week and four-week residency program. Gizara stayed for two week in a studio room on the top floor. “We would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, paint and share wine together. It was magical,” said Gizara.

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Since 1990 she has only painted black and white paintings, however after living at the chateau for weeks, she was moved to incorporate colors on her canvas. “For the first time since college, I totally immersed myself in art while at the chateau,” said Gizara.

Born in upstate New York, Gizara started painting at the age of 13. She fondly remembers painting New England landscapes and farmers in fields. While attending U Mass Dartmouth, she discovered that she wanted to be an artist full-time and moved to Santa Monica in 1986. “I started painting monochromatic images in black and white with a little bit of gray and olive green,” she said.

Her work has developed a Hollywood following, with her limited edition portfolio of both photograph & paintings included in the 2014 Oscar Nominee Gift Bags. Her work has appeared on Entertainment Tonite, The Insider, Access Hollywood and the The Ellen Show.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence and actor Bruce Dern display Gizara’s artwork in their private collections, and Disney executive Sean Cocchia has some of Gizara’s Los Angeles photographs.

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Come see Gizara’s artwork until December 3, 2018 during brunch or dinner at Luigi al Teatro.

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Brunch dishes include a variety of toasts topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and capers. I enjoyed the luscious avocado, burrata and pickled onions, and mint. Another offered a soft poached egg on top of layers of prosciutto, arugula and a cherry tomato. For something sweet the ricotta with fig jam and fried rosemary is a winner.

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Salads include a brightly colored heirloom tomato with burrata, and baby gem lettuce drizzled with an orange bourbon vinaigrette. Fineo also makes a spinach quiche, baked eggs and a sea urchin omelet. Brunch is available on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Dinner service begins at 5 p.m.

3116 Second St., Santa Monica, (310)328-0000 – Click here to see the dinner menu http://www.luigialteatro.com. 

Go See Valley of the Heart at the Mark Taper Forum

As the front doors opened at the Mark Taper Forum, three Japanese style drummers led the audience into the theatre to see Luis Valdez’s newest stage production Valley of the Heart.

Sitting in my seat, I looked down admiring John Iacovelli’s exquisite wood floor stage displaying rays of sun, and a mesmerizing thin blue line serpentining across the stage representing a long irrigation canal. Below the canal was a patchwork of agricultural fields, representing a fertile California agricultural valley.

In the center of the stage was an empty wheelchair and floor-to-ceiling white Japanese-style shoji screen. These sliding screens are a canvas for projection designer David Murakami’s visual storytelling of immigrant farmers, President Roosevelt declaring war on Japan, and horrific internment camps in California and Wyoming.

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Valdez is a legendary storyteller in Latino theater, as the founder of the Obie-Award winning El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theater), with credits including the award winning “Zoot Suit,” “La Bamba,”and “The Cisco Kid.”

This is a family affair for playwright and director Luis Valdez. His brother Daniel Valdez plays the patriarch Cayetano of the Montano family, and Cayetano’s son Benjamin is Luis Valdez’ talented son Takin Valdez.

It begins with Benjamin as an elderly man, telling the audience his life story about hard working immigrants from Japan and Mexico working side by side if the fields. We meet the Montano family, sharecroppers living on the Yamaguchi farm in Cupertino, CA, long before this area became the headquarters for Apple Inc. Cupertino’s primary economic activity was once agriculture before it became known as the Silicon Valley.

This beautifully written love story focuses on young Benjamin falling in love with Thelma “Teruko” (Melanie Mah) Yamaguchi right before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The choreography of their forbidden love is witnessed while these two harvest broccoli in the fields, and is silhouetted in the upstairs window inside the Yamaguchi home.

Thelma’s immigrant father Ichiro Yamaguchi (Randall Nakano) promotes Benjamin as foreman of the farm, after President Franklin Roosevelt executes his Executive Order and declares war on Japan in 1942. We sadly watch the Yamaguchi family burn and bury everything they own representing their Japanese heritage. When Ichiro turns himself in to protect his family and the farm, I heard nearby audience members sob, as these scenes brought back painful personal memories.

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Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness disappears overnight to hundred of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry, as they were forced to report to relocation centers near their homes. Many lived in horse stalls in a San Jose racetrack or the Los Angeles’ Fairgrounds in Pomona until transferred to more permanent wartime internment camps in California, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Soon Thelma, pregnant with child, and her family are forced out of their house, and Benjamin and his family promise to maintain and protect the farm.

Christy Sandoval as Benjamin’s sister Maruca Montano provides comic relief while enjoying life in the Yamaguchi’s more modern ranch house, demonstrating how the Montano’s life improved, while the Yamaguchi’s life tragically changes.

This emotionally powered production slows down in movement after intermission, as the audience watches a recitation of letters between Thelma and Benjamin. About 15 minutes could be shaved from the length of the play here, yet the lighting by Pablo Santiago, sound by Philip G. Allen and multi-media visual display on the back screens enhance these scenes.

One walks away reflecting on the injustice today’s immigrants are facing as they struggle to provide a future for their American-born children. It’s eerily a repeat of history as our current administration pulls apart families and separates them into relocation camps.

The cast of “Valley of the Heart” includes, Mariela Arteaga, Moises Castro, Justin Chien, Melanie Arii Mah, Randall Nakano, Michael Naydoe Pinedo, Joy Osmanski, Rose Portillo, Christy Sandoval, Scott Keiji Takeda, Daniel Valdez and Lakin Valdez.

The creative team includes set design by John Iacovelli, costume design by Lupe Valdez, lighting design by Pablo Santiago, projection design by David Murakami and sound design by Philip G. Allen. The production stage manager is David S. Franklin.

The play runs through December 9, 2018. Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. No Monday performances. Exceptions: No public performances on Tuesday, November 13 and Wednesday, November 14. Added 8 p.m. performance on Monday, November 19. No 8 p.m. performance on Thanksgiving, November 22.

Tickets are available online at CenterTheatreGroup.org, by calling Audience Services at (213) 628-2772 or in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Office (at the Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles). Tickets range from $30 – $99 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

This OnStage Blog review was featured on Nov. 10, 2018.

Universal Studios Hollywood “Day of Giving”

Yesterday hundreds of Universal Studios Hollywood volunteers gathered together,  offering some warm Universal cheer to 300 homeless LAUSD students. The 14th annual “Day of Giving” on Nov. 8, 2018 offers children 5 to 11 years old a day they will never forget.

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Photo by Jill Weinlein

The inspirational “Day of Giving” yearly event is designed to connect Universal Studios employees with the giving people of  Operation School Bell (OSB) of the Anne Banning Auxiliary (ABA), a service of the Assistance League® of Los Angeles. This non-profit organization provides new school clothes, shoes, backpacks, books, and enhanced self-esteem to elementary-age school children (grades K-5) who are identified as homeless in LA Unified School District (LAUSD).

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The organization’s mission is to empower individuals and families to lead more productive and fulfilling lives by staying in school and succeeding academically. Disadvantaged children typically lack appropriate school attire or are forced to share clothes with family members, putting them at risk for irregular attendance, poor school performance, and low self-esteem. OSB’s goal is to improve regular school attendance so these students can succeed in school.

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LASUD Counselor Jaza Williams

Buses and vans brought 300 children and their chaperones to Universal Studios Hollywood for a day of fun. They were warmly greeted at the entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood employees volunteers.

LAUSD Homeless Education Counselors checked in each child with a wrist band and handed them a brand new plush Despicable Me Minion. LAUSD counselor Jaza Williams told me she was having an OPRAH moment handing each child a lovable yellow toy saying  “You Get a Minion, You Get a Minion….”

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Students smiled as Universal Studios Hollywood volunteers gave them a brand new backpack filled with new school supplies provided by Operation School Bell.

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Los Angeles Community Police Officers fitted children with brand new shoes. Wearing their new shoes, they walked up the steps into the Operation School Bell on Wheels trailer fully outfitted as a “traveling closet.” Volunteers personally fit the children with new school clothes.

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Melanie Merians, CEO of the Assistance League of Los Angeles shared that the cost for each school visit is $25,000 per day.  They stock the pop-up 48-foot big-rig “traveling closet” with new clothing that includes uniform polo shirts, jacket/hoodie and pants.

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On a typical “Wheels” site visit at a school, more than 250 children receive clothing and supplies. Annually they provide new clothing to more than 6,300 at-risk children in grades K-5 at LAUSD.

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Kathy B, Adrienne Seltzer and Officer James

Adrienne Seltzer takes Operation School Bell on Wheels to 16 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District during the school year. Children in need receive clothing and supplies on each visit. LAPD Community Officers accompany Seltzer on the visits. “It’s nice for kids to see police officers in another light,” said Seltzer. “They also are there to assure everyone stays safe.”

IMG_4644Back down the steps, the children were offered to pick a brand new book to keep by Universal Studios Hollywood volunteers.

IMG_4641After this experience, the students enter Universal Studios Hollywood in groups to enjoy a fun afternoon visiting “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”

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Talking to Heather Mann, Public Relations at Universal Studios, she told me the students and chaperones will visit “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” meet Minions, and ride the popular “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.” A catered lunch is provided and the students get to play at the “Super Silly Fun Land” play zone. They also get a behind-the-scenes look at how movies are made on the world-famous Studio Tour.

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This is one of five Universal Day of Giving events. Universal Studios Hollywood supports several several other non-profit organizations across Los Angeles including Project Angle Food, Tree People, MEND, Union Station Homeless Services and Shane’s Inspiration.

The holidays will be brighter for these children and others thanks to these caring volunteer heroes. If you would like to help the volunteers from Assistance League Los Angeles Operation School Bell raise funds to help fund these events for homeless students Donate here.

 

Sweet Sunday Brunch at Herringbone

With whimsical marine décor and artwork displayed among the interior’s cool blue and green hues, Herringbone allows beachgoers to revel in the seaside without the crowds of the Santa Monica Pier just a few blocks away.

On a beautiful day, the best way to experience this California coastal restaurant is with brunch on the al fresco patio.

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Walking inside Herringbone’s Thomas Shoos-designed space, diners immediately notice the striking entrance offering taller than normal beautiful carved wood doors, and leafless life-size trees in large planter boxes. Hanging from the bare branches are an assortment of long spike puffer fish. This California coastal restaurant is just a couple blocks from the Santa Monica pier and beach, inspiring the interior’s whimsical marine decor and artwork displayed among pleasing blue and green hues.

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The colorful mosaic tiled raw bar is a piece of art made with an array of broken and cut Mediterranean tiles. This is where the oysters are shucked and served on ice with classic mignonette and samba cocktail sauce. Behind this bar, chefs assemble seafood platters filled with oysters, Alaskan king crab, Maine lobster and jumbo shrimp. During dinner and brunch hours, diners can splurge and share an order of a dozen oysters and a bottle of wine with a loved one for $55.

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Nautical rope and glass lights hang above marble top tables and metal chairs resting on wood flooring. Throughout the dining rooms are shallow fishing boat hung upside down with dropped ropes and Edison lights as functional art, similar to a sculpture one would admire in a Museum of Modern Art.

Beautiful light blue water glasses add a touch of color on the top of the white marble tables.

One wall is textured with brick and decorated with painted wooden fish hung to appear as if they are swimming in a school. It’s near the cocktail bar with an impressive skeleton of a large marine mammal suspended above.

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On a beautiful day, the best way to start off brunch at Herringbone is out front on the al fresco patio. Brunch goers can get into the seaside spirit sipping rose’ wine all day while enjoying lobster rolls filled with Maine Lobster and a squeeze of lemon. 

Seeking something sweet, we started with chef Ashley’s oversized cinnamon bun. It’s large and sticky from the caramelized cinnamon and sugar swirl, and mountain swirl of cream cheese frosting on top. Another sweet starter we enjoyed was the moist banana bread topped with hazelnut streusel crumble. It arrived on a plate with three slices surrounded with a handful of bright red and purple berries and dollop of cream cheese frosting.

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The General Manager Ricky Ortega visited guests around the room to make sure everyone is pleased with the service and food. He introduced himself and encouraged us to order some of the savory dishes including chilaquiles smothered in a ranchero sauce. If you like spicy, this dish will please your senses, however I found it offered too much heat for my liking. The “Smoked Salmon Benny” is a twist on a traditional Eggs Benedict. Presented on a regular English muffin, it’s topped with ribbons of thinly sliced salmon, and a watercress, chimichurri and hollandaise sauce. The sauce was a tad too salty on the day we dined.

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Brunch toast includes stone crab and avocado decorated with watermelon radish, a fried egg, arugula leaves and sprinkle of Meyer lemon vinaigrette. I enjoyed the fresh red tuna poke topped with chopped macadamia nuts, sliced red onions, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a handful of arugula leaves. It’s served with crunchy black and white nori chips for scooping. 

Feeling fortified we finished brunch and hopped on two electric scooters parked out front of Herringbone to explore neighborhoods near the beach in Santa Monica. 

Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner begins daily at 5 p.m. 1755 Ocean Ave. (310)971-4460.

This review was featured in the Nov. 8, 2018 issue of the Beverly Press.