GOOD DEEDS IN TOUGH TIMES

VAP logo CLEAR SMALLDCPR enjoys the opportunity to work with many non profit organizations.  One of our favorites, The Virginia Avenue Project, employs all aspects of the arts to mentor at-risk youth.  The group, led by our good friend Shelly Woods, is an inspired example of what we can accomplish in this world, even during difficult economic times.  This year’s VAP Gala Event will be capped by a frenzy of foodies, rushing the stage to collect ONE YEARS’ WORTH OF DINNERS!  This is one of our very favorite fundraisers ever.  Please support the incredible work of the Virginia Avenue Project, and test your luck with their Bon Appetit Sweepstakes!  Whether $5 or $500, your support WILL change the lives of our young neighbors in Los Angeles!

The Virginia Avenue Project’s

 BON APPETIT SWEEPSTAKES: DINNER FOR A YEAR!

Los Angeles’ acclaimed youth arts mentoring organization, The Virginia Avenue Project, is sponsoring the years’ most exciting Foodie Sweepstakes: ONE FULL YEAR OF DINING!  A simple $5.00 ticket purchase places you in a drawing for FIFTY TWO FREE DINNERS, compliments of many of LA’s most acclaimed and delicious dining destinations.  From Santa Monica’s FIG Restaurant, to Venice’s Vegan SEED, the list of restaurant gift certificates ranges from $50.00, to dinner for two, to expansive dining options for up to four guests.   With 52 participating restaurants, the winner may choose a new dining destination every week, from favorites like IN & OUT BURGER, BODEGA WINE BAR, LA GRANDE ORANGE, and THE HOUSE OF BLUES, to Pasadena’s TWIN PALMS and BAR CELONA, to MASTRO’S STEAKHOUSE in Beverly Hills!!  Use one a week, or splurge and dine out 52 days in a row…Only your appetite and your luck control this dining adventure!  The second prize winner will receive a $100.00 gift certificate from Whole Foods, with Third-Fifth Prizes receiving beautiful BON APPETIT gift baskets.

v  Tickets are $5.00 for a single chance, or $20.00 for five tickets.

v  Tickets may be purchased by dialing 310|264|4224, or 310|702|9674,  Or via email at simon@VirginiaAvenueProject.org.

v  You may make a donation at www.virginiaavenueproject.org and tickets will be mailed to you (before Oct 8, 2009).

v  PLEASE join our FaceBook Fan Page: “Virginia Avenue Project” to help spread the word!

v  The VAP students will be performing and selling raffle tickets at the Santa Monica Whole Foods  (Wilshire & 22nd) on Tuesday, September 29 from 6:00-8:00pm.

v  Winners will be selected at The Virginia Avenue Project Gala on October 8, 2009 at Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, CA.  Winners need not be present to win.

 

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VEGAN POWER: “OUTTA THE WAY, TONY!”

Vegan Chef Christy Morgan Strikes Back at Bourdain

Vegan Chef Christy Morgan Strikes Back at Bourdain

From our friends at Grub Street

Private chef Christy Morgan is emerging from the shadows of Alicia Silverstone’s kitchen to challenge Anthony Bourdain’s constant slams on vegans. After watching the San Francisco episode of Bourdain’s No Reservations, in which Tony reminds us, “I’m famously unenthusiastic…about vegans,” Morgan is responding with a “Get Out of Our Way, Tony B.” series of vegan cooking classes. “The masses don’t understand veganism, it has a bad name for supposedly being bland, which is just not the case,” Morgan tells us. She aims to show the benefits and flavors of a genre that “Bourdain does not know or understand,” according to the chef, though calling Tony out is “all in good fun.” Classes will focus on the preparation of whole grains, macrobiotics, plant-based diets, and Japanese cuisine. Entry is only $25, but past classes have filled up fast, so unlike Bourdain, make reservations at 310.963.4279 and check out the schedule for September:

Saturday Double Feature – Downtown

Saturday, September 19th, 4-5 p.m.
The Great Grain
How many “whole grains” can you name? This class will give you new and fresh ideas on how to sneak more whole grains into your diet.

Saturday, September 19th, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Turning Japanese
The Japanese people are the healthiest in the world and have many medicinal foods that can be incorporated into your diet. Learn about those healing foods and how to cook with them.

Surfas Restaurant Supply, Culver City

Sunday, September 20th, 4-5 p.m.
The Versatile Bean
Beans are a bountiful and versatile food that pack a punch with nutrients. We’ll show you how to make them from scratch in a pressure cooker and give you some great recipes for quick meals with beans.

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FILE UNDER: BLOGS WE LOVE

LA Weekly Editor Amy Scattergood wrote what we believe was the most thoughtful, intelligent, and articulate entry on the Michael Jackson reception at Pasadena’s Villa SORRISO Restaurant.  We are ALMOST certain that you will agree…

From LA Weekly’s SQUID INK BLOG, she wrote:

Smoke AND Mirrors: Pasadena’s Villa Sorriso Hosts Michael Jackson’s Burial Reception Tonight

By Amy Scattergood in Food News, LA Restaurants

Thursday, Sep. 3 2009 @ 12:30PM

Pasadena residents and those visiting Old Town tonight will have not only smoke from the Station fire to navigate but crowds of Michael Jackson fans. Villa Sorriso, the Italian restaurant on the far western edge of Colorado Boulevard is hosting the King of Pop’s burial reception tonight. No, you can’t go; the event is closed to the public. 250 family members and invited guests are expected. The Jackson family bought out the space for the entire day, according to the restaurant’s PR representative, Dan Cox. Why the 5 year-old Pasadena restaurant? “The Jacksons are customers,” says Cox. “They’ve been coming for years. Although I don’t think Michael ever came.” Cox says that the city of Pasadena has been helping to coordinate the event and the traffic, and that Colorado will not be closed. For those well-wishers, paparazzi, glove-clad fans and fire personnel desperately in need of a break, the Jacksons are expected to arrive at the restaurant around 8 o’clock this evening. No word on the menu.

Villa Sorriso is owned by Jack Haung, who also owns Bar Celona, a tapas restaurant a few blocks east up Colorado Blvd. Both restaurants recently celebrated their 5th year anniversaries.

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THE LEFT SIDE OF TOWN FINALLY GETS FED. (or, a hyperlink tour of good eats)

The sounds of agony and distress were unavoidable and frightening.

My neighbor rushed to my rescue.  It wasn’t pretty.

What seemed like minutes…hours…days…passed before I could muster the strength to finally say aloud, “Conny Andersson has left AK!!  What will we EAT NOW?”

Chef Connie was my FaceBook “friend!”  I was inconsolable.

connie

 

 

 

Just a few short years ago, I refused to even visit the west side of Los Angeles. 

What would I DO?  Where would I EAT?

Forget about it! 

Until now, that is…

I like to believe that good karma – and good restaurants – follow me where ever I go.  And so, as I moved to Santa Monica, suddenly we westsiders (I like to pretend that I am a westsider now) have an embarrassment of riches.  Alas, to the layman it probably appears that I brought some spectacularly talented chefs and some extraordinary restaurants to the west side with me.  I know that I shouldn’t really attempt to accept credit, but….well,  I am.  It can NOT just be coincidence that as soon as I arrived, so did the restaurants.

Just this week, we will enjoy the opening of the Blue Plate Oysterette, from the chef & owner of ritzy Montana Ave’s Blue Plate Diner.  I eat about 1/3 of my weekly lunches at Blue Plate, and I am likely to enjoy just as many dinners at the new place.  Modeled after an east coast oyster shack, I can almost taste my first lobster roll now. 

Just down Ocean Avenue, one of LA’s greatest French chefs, Jean Francois Meteigner, has just opened the doors to the La Cachette Bistro.  The left side of town has suffered unwarranted punishment with the obvious lack of a great French bistro!  It’s almost impossible to get a designated driver to travel downtown to fav Church & State.  Now, we can only smile at the dream of wobbling home from La Cachette in a happy haze of pate and escargot. 

Snail1

 

 

 

The Fairmont Hotel recently opened Fig and we Cannot. Get. Enough.  Delicious, creative cooking in beautiful surroundings.  This place has studied the details of dining, right down to the white covers for the televisions, enabling them to blend into the white brick walls when not in use.  The chef arrived in Santa Monica via The French Laundry.  And it shows.

Many of our favorites over the past few months include SEED, Gjelina, Tavern, Cache & Riva, and the old school favorites that just keep knockin ’em outta the park – Joe’s, Bar Pintxo, Border Grill, Melisse, Vincenti, Drago, Josie and JiRaffe.  I should also mention the only business whose doors I darken daily: Intelligentsia Venice – Not so much a coffee shop, as a celebration of all things caffeinated.  Pricey and worth every penny, teeny tiny old school shots of caffeine that could easily become the most delicious part of your day.  That is, if you don’t have time for lunch.  Or dinner.

So many places to eat.  So little time. 

What’s a boy on a diet to do?

sm1sm2

 

 

 

 

 

Note to the gentle reader:  Need a holiday?  A staycation? A great date spot? A reprieve from the heat and smoke of the city?

Come visit us on the west side.  We are now accepting visitors!

I’m thinking of selling my car….and settling in…

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MISS BECKY LEATHERWOOD’S CHRISTMAS SAUSAGE BALLS & OTHER SOUTHERN TRADITIONS

sausage ballsPictured:

Miss Becky Leatherwood’s

Christmas Sausage Balls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies of the South COOK

Not all of them cook well, but they all cook. 

Most do not toss salads.  Most do not steam vegetables.  Most have never prepared brown rice or any soy based meat substitute. 

Every Lady of the South, however, cooks.  And every lady has a “specialty item” that bears her name.  It might have been passed down from her great great grandmother or it might have come from the back of a Velveeta package, yet there is almost always one bright, shining example of delicious Southern cooking in her repertoire. 

In fact, that one item might actually BE her repertoire. 

In what has become a great Southern tradition, that item often assumes the cook’s name for generations to come.  Whether it’s listed in a church cookbook, a Jaycettes’ spiral bound brochure, or the Junior League’s  fancy fundraising edition sold at Davis Kidd Bookstore, the items forevermore become named – “Miss Becky Leatherwood’s Christmas Sausage Balls,” “Miss Kendra Pahlow’s Chili Con Queso,” “A’int Thelma’s Sweet Potatoes,” and “Granny Ana’s Boiled Custard.”

casserole 7casserole 3

 

 

 

 

 

These days, that item is often a casserole or a dip.  Except for Miss Leatherwood’s sausage balls.  It must be noted that Miss Leatherwood doesn’t ONLY make them at Christmastime.  However, every Christmas for the past couple of decades, she rolls up a few dozen and delivers them to our family as a Christmas gift.  In fact, we have enjoyed them and loved them for so many years, it has become one of the few Christmas happenings that my family counts on as tradition.  It’s a nice tradition.  And, delicious, too.  Realllly delicious!

casserole 2casserole 6

 

 

 

 

 

To have a dish named for you is a badge of honor, but, apparently, it can also become a curse.  Once an item is named for you…say, for instance “Miss Charlotte’s Taco Dip,” poor Miss Charlotte is soon required to prepare the same dish for every occasion for the rest of her life.  And, just as importantly, all of Miss Charlotte’s friends and family are required to eat – and LOVE – the dip for generations to come.  Fortunately, there is almost never fakin’ involved…the item becomes famous because IT”S SO DAMN GOOD!

cookies

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t ask me why…This is just how it is. 

Always has been and probably always will be.

Just talkin’ about this makes me DREAMMM about “Dianne’s Swiss Egg Bake!”

What do you say, Dianne???

 

Epilogue: Dianne retired from preparing this item, and sadly, no known photos exist…only memories of eating well.  Eating Very Well, indeed.

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