Los Angeles

phoinside.jpg"How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
"It's a really obscure number. you wouldn't have heard of it."

Since starting my dance company, my affiliation with hipsters has grown exponentially (and it wasn't exactly non-existent before). So instead of fighting it, I've decided to fully embrace all the customs and habits of this (increasingly less) rarified group of moustache sporting, shower shunning, flannel-wearing, beanstalk-bodied ugly ducklings. To accomplish this, I consult my sister, who, while she is much too beautiful to need to hide behind hipster affectations, is an expert on all things Eastside and off-the-beaten path.

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babybluesbbq.jpgAfter a screening of the frightening (and somewhat hilarious) Paranormal Activity my pals and I wanted to grab a drink and maybe some chow. Three of us, on separate occasions, by different people, had Baby Blues BBQ recommended to us.

This is a place with a great vibe and some pretty delicious BBQ. We all chatted and laughed over a few beers, some sloppy ribs and crumbly delicious cornbread.

I opted for The Deuce, which is a platter consisting of 1/2 a rack of Memphis style ribs, 5 of their BBQ shrimp (which were recommended to our table by some random cook who came out for no reason other than to tell us we should order the shrimp - they were delicious), cornbread and my choice of two from an extensive list of "fixins". It reads like a who's who of barbeque: collard greens, potato salad, baked beans, mac 'n' cheese, okra - fried and sauteed, mashed potatoes, stewed tomatoes, pork 'n' beans, etc. I opted for cole slaw and fried okra. At $22.95 this wasn't such a bad deal.

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umami-burger-logo.jpgMy mom makes the greatest hamburger in the world. I don’t know how she does it — it’s not the cut of the meat or the way she marinades it (she doesn’t) or the fact that it’s organic (which it is) or that it has some fancy cheese on it (though it usually does). It’s just the greatest hamburger you’ve ever had. Which is why I’m always hesitant to try the great, new burger stand around the corner — especially, when it’s a gourmet burger stand. Don’t get me wrong. The idea of maple grilled onions and blue cheese and truffle oil on a hamburger is certainly appealing to me, but somehow those gourmet burgers — even the ones from Father’s Office — just never taste as good as my mom’s plain, old patty melts.

But how could I not try Umami burger? Everyone’s been talking about it and even the name is sort of intriguing. Umami: the fifth taste. What the hell is the fifth taste? My friend Ben Chinn and I had to find out.

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ImageIn many places in the world a bakery is often the nexus of a neighborhood.  A place where the locals meet to buy baked goods and bread. Bread, the so-called ’staff of life,’ is inexpensive nourishment to many people. Slowly but surely The Village Bakery and Cafe has become the nexus of our Atwater Village neighborhood. Much like their sisters in Europe, it has a walk up counter with a shelf of various types of bread behind.

When I go in and see the stacks of freshly baked baguettes it feels a bit like it did when I bought the daily loaf while living in France. The difference here is you can also order coffee, a house-made pastry, breakfast or lunch, then sit and WiFi it up for as long as you want. Since it’s located very close to the horse stables and riding schools along the Los Angeles River, I’ve seen more than a patron or two wearing English riding boots and jodphurs as well as the occasional cowboy boots. A bit of local neighborhood color.

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petrossian.jpgI've studied wine for a decade and have worked on my palate, expanding my personal taste to include styles from all over the world. Red, white, sparkling, dessert. I've tried them all. Yet, when it came to food, I still treated most meals as the means to an end – which was drinking great wine. So the fact that I've dined at the Petrossian Cafe twice in 3 weeks is more than a little out of character. It wasn't until I started following a bunch of LA foodies this past spring on Twitter that I realized how limited my experience with food really was. I was embarrassed by the long list of delicacies that I had never eaten and was actually afraid to put in my mouth. So, I started making a concentrated effort to eat outside my comfort zone and jump on the foodie bandwagon. Within the last six months I've eaten Wellfleet oysters on the half shell (a must when on Cape Cod), Escargot a La Bourguignonne (anything smothered in garlic and butter tastes good) and a Scotch Egg (a deep-fried delight).

I was beginning to understand what all the buzz was about, but was still a bit hesitant when invited by my friend Jo to join her and a group of local foodies at Petrossian, a restaurant that specialized in two of my biggest food challenges – caviar and salmon. I've tried both several times over the years and have been unable to overcome my overall dislike. Just when I think I've turned the corner (our friend Charles' amazing poached salmon with homemade dill sauce comes to mind), I encounter a variation that sends my palate running for the hills yet again.  However, since Petrossian makes their fame and fortune via these delicacies I decided to try the best before giving up for good.

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