Monday, September 26, 2016

The 11th Annual Great Los Angeles Walk Returns to Pico Boulevard

(Photo by Will Campbell)

It's time to take another peek at Pico.

For the 11th Annual Great Los Angeles Walk, we're heading back to PICO BOULEVARD (the locale for our second-ever Walk, in 2007)!

This year's walk also doubles as my own personal celebration of my 20th anniversary in Los Angeles. As you may know, I began the Great Los Angeles Walk in 2006 as a way to mark my first decade in our city. And now here we are, a decade later, and the Walk lives on!

Pico was one of my favorite Great Los Angeles Walk locales, because we made a point to eat our way across town. Here's how I summed up the walk in 2007:

Great Los Angeles Walkers who made it from end-to-end got to experience, along the way, the bustling (even at 9 in the morning) fashion district; the Convention Center (currently home to the Auto Show); the Central American-dominated Byzantine-Latino Quarter; the city's shortest street (Powers Place); the beautiful old homes of Alvarado Terrace; a slice of Koreatown; the gut-busting food of spots like Oki-Dog and Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles; the sight of a massive crane that tipped over (smashing the roof of a yoga studio) in Mid-City; the closed (for the Sabbath) Jewish shops and restaurants west of Fairfax; the Fox lot; dodging golf balls next to the Rancho Park golf course; the cool ocean breeze once we hit Santa Monica; and much more.

Who knows if we'll get all that excitement this time, but you never know!

Our downtown-to-the-ocean urban hike will start at downtown location to be announced later. And as you are surely well aware, this will be the easiest Great Los Angeles Walk ever to get to and from the start and end points, thanks to the arrival of the Metro Expo Line! Stay tuned for more details! Always check for updates, and feel free to drop us a line at to let us know you're coming! Most importantly: The date for the walk is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2016 at 9 am. (It's always the Saturday before Thanksgiving -- just remember that!) More details to come! But in the meantime, to get our Great Los Angeles Walk: Pico Boulevard Revisited started, here are a few videos about the street.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Rate-A-Restaurant #374: Bengees (Pasadena)

Bengees ice cream

Restaurant: Bengees Ice Cream Crafters

Location: 901 E Del Mar Blvd (Pasadena)

Bengees ice cream

Type of restaurant: Dessert (Ice Cream)

Bengees ice cream

We stipulated: Maria and I had just finished watching a movie in Pasadena, and had a bit of time to spare before we had to pick up the boys. The answer? Ice cream. I searched for a spot in Pasadena, and Bengees looked promising.

Bengees ice cream

They stipulated: "Treat yo' self." Bengees offers a rotating mix of flavors, including several vegan choices. Also cronut ice cream sandwiches and a toasted marshmallow topping option

Bengees ice cream

What we ordered: Mike: Scoop of churro ice cream, $3.50; Maria: English toffee ice cream, $3.50
Bengees ice cream

High point:  Nice choice of flavors, and free samples.

Low point:  The flavors were ultimately just OK, but not exceptional.

Overall impression: Go for the signature items -- the cronut ice cream sandwich or the toasted marshmallow topping. Otherwise, it's just another ice cream shop.

Will we return: Not sure. There are many ice cream joints popping up all the time, and not sure Bengees made enough of an impression to be back.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Mania Returns, As We Head Into Fall

Pumpkin spice

Remember when I asked last year if the Pumpkin craze had gone too far?

I'm inclined to say no, but I'm a sucker for pumpkin flavors -- and every year, more mainstream products get into the act. This year, pumpkin is invading the cereal aisle. Above, pumpkin flavors of Mini Frosted Wheats, Life and Special K cereals. (All found at Target). I haven't been to Trader Joe's yet this week, but I assume the aisles are starting to look a lot like this, from last year:

Fall is here!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rate-A-Restaurant #373: Magpies Softserve (Silver Lake)


Restaurant: Magpies Softserve

Location: 2660 Griffith Park Boulevard (Silver Lake)


Type of restaurant: Dessert (Ice Cream)


We stipulated: I love soft serve more than anything. I still dream almost daily of the "Salty Bea Arthur," as served at New York's Big Gay Ice Cream shop (which sadly still hasn't opened a Los Angeles outpost, despite promising so). But I also love adventurous flavors, which is why Scoops is my fave ice cream scoop in LA. Magpies promised to marry the two, and I was in.


They stipulated: "Magpies Softserve is a scratch recipe soft serve dessert shop. We make our soft serve mix and all toppings in house. We wanted to expand the flavors of typical soft serve ice cream from the traditional vanilla and chocolate by creating flavors of soft serve that bring us back to our childhood, flavors that inspired us to become chefs. From a Horchata (non dairy), to a Cortadito, a sweetened Cuban espresso to Yuzu Honey, a traditional Korean tea that is unique to the American palate. We had a lot of fun creating flavors that are authentic to us."


What we ordered: Mike: Toasted marshmallow and Corn Almond; Maria: Thai Tea and Sweet Cream; Evan: Toasted marshmallow with caramel and cookie crumble; Nathan: Toasted marshmallow. All junior size at $3.95; the two toppings were 95 cents more.

High point:  Loved the corn almond, which reminded me of the "cereal milk" flavor found at New York's Milk Bar. Plus: The fact that you could split your order and get *two* flavors was well appreciated!

Low point:  It's a small store, so there aren't many places to sit and enjoy your treat. (But that's a common refrain at spots like Scoops too.)


Overall impression: The junior size is more than enough; it's the perfect amount of ice cream. Also loved the free samples as we tested out what we wanted. And the diversity of flavor choices means there's something for everyone.


Will we return: Oh yes. Magpies rotates its flavors, which means there will be always new flavors to try. Not good for my diet, but fantastic news for my tastebuds.
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