Sunday, June 28, 2015

Star Wars, Mickey Mouse and More: Scenes from the Pasadena Chalk Festival

Chalk

Last weekend we strolled through Pasadena's Paseo Colorado open-air mall to check out the participants from this year's Pasadena Chalk Festival in mid-creation. Billed as the world's largest chalk art competition, more than 600 artists created some really great, colorful chalk art. (And as a weird bonus, we ran into Marc Maron, a day after he interviewed President Obama in his Highland Park garage!) Check out the winning murals here. Some highlights:

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Chalk

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rate-A-Restaurant #344 Valerie Echo Park

Valerie Echo Park

Restaurant: Valerie Tea House & Bakery

Location: 1665 Echo Park Avenue (Echo Park)

Type of restaurant: Bakery, Brunch, Sandwiches

Valerie Echo Park

We stipulated: For a belated Mother's Day brunch, we decided to give the Valerie location in Echo Park a try. Valerie Confections participated in our 2012 Great Los Angeles Walk, selling hot chocolate and goodies to our walkers, so we were happy to visit a new location.

Valerie Echo Park

They stipulated: "Valerie Confections was founded by partners Valerie and Stan in 2004 with six flavors of chocolate-dipped toffee. Since those early days the company has expanded exponentially and now includes chocolates, a popular line of petits fours, handmade preserves, cakes, pastries, and a catering division—all made with a commitment to using the very best ingredients. The Valerie Confections boutique and factory is located just outside downtown Los Angeles."

Valerie Echo Park

What we ordered: Curried chicken sandwich (jidori chicken, apple, onion) $10; Egg salad sandwich (capers, fresh dill) $10; Toast and preserves (served with butter and seasonal preserves) $5; Salted caramel bread pudding (puff pastry, caramel, fleur de sel) $6

Valerie Echo Park

High point:  The bread was great and the sandwiches ever large.

Valerie Echo Park

Low point:  Limited seating, and no coffee refills!

Valerie Echo Park

Overall impression: The chicken sandwich was a rad sweet, and the bread pudding surprisingly bland. But still the kind of quaint, neighborhood spot that I wish we had closer to our home.

Will we return: A decent choice for brunch if you happen to be in Echo Park, although we also like the Square One outpost at the actual Echo Park boathouse as well.

KCRW's THE SPIN-OFF: "The Goldbergs" Star Wendi McLendon-Covey on Smothering, the Emmys and Comedy



On the latest edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off, Joe and I talk to "The Goldbergs" and "Bridesmaids" star Wendi McLendon-Covey:
As an actress who earned her improv chops at The Groundlings, Wendi McLendon-Covey thought she was "too weird for network television." But then,"network television got weird."

McLendon-Covey tells us how after a hilarious turn in Bridesmaids, she was cast in two promising projects that ended up falling apart. Following those disappointments, she ended up landing the part of the smothering mother (better known as a "smother") Beverly Goldberg on the ABC comedy, The Goldbergs. The show will start its third season this fall, but before it was a hit, creator Adam F. Goldberg had several failed attempts to get it off the ground. Despite the struggles for both McLendon-Covey and the show itself, she feels like things eventually worked out the way they were meant to be.

She tells us how she's shaped her career by saying no to roles that feel to similar to parts she's already done and how she once had to fire a manager who constantly shot down her ideas and told her not to audition for Bridesmaids. For McLendon-Covey, a lot of it goes back to the lessons she took away from her time at The Groundlings: "Work your ass off… and show them why you're worthy."

Listen below!

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Visit to Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is one of those places you like in theory, but there's honestly no real reason to travel all the way down to the south part of Orange County to see. (Especially having spent plenty of time there in the 1990s.) But we happened to be at a gathering in Irvine a few weeks ago, so we took the opportunity to explore.

What I enjoy about Laguna is the almost island vibe you get, as if you were walking around Lahaina. Of course, the promise of Laguna as an artists' colony has long ago been replaced by extreme wealth (as celebrated on MTV's "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County"), but its location has allowed it to retain a small town charm.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rate-A-Restaurant #343: California Chutney Tandoori Kitchen (Pasadena)

Chickpea

Restaurant: California Chutney Tandoori Kitchen

Location: 45 N Raymond Ave (Pasadena)

Type of restaurant: Indian

Chickpea

We stipulated: Looking for a quick bite in Pasadena, we had heard good things about Chutney and wanted to give it a try.

Chickpea

They stipulated: "Our favorite cooking technique is roasting in the Tandoori Oven. We considered offering a variety of Indian curry dishes that you can find in many restaurants, but decided to focus mainly on Tandoori Cooking and do it with integrity. By offering a variety of chutneys we really wanted to encourage people to explore new flavors and have fun with it."

Chickpea

What we ordered: Chicken Tikka Naan Duo ($8.75), Mixed Naan Trio (1 Braised Chickpeas Naan and 2 Paneer Tikka Naan, $12.95), Tandoori chicken rice bowl ($7.50), two individual naan ($3)

Chickpea

High point:  The sauces (aka the chutney bar) offer up a wide variet: Cinnamon pineapple, mango ginger, tamarind apple, roasted chili, cucumber yogurt.

Chickpea

Low point:  The duo and trio pricing is confusing, and not necessarily a better deal when you're ordering the cheaper veggie naans.

Chickpea

Overall impression: It has promise. The idea is essentially Indian tacos, but naan may be too thick to do it. That's a bit too heavy and overpowers the other flavors. Also, getting chicken tikka wasn't a good idea in hindsite. The idea of California Chutney is adding your own sauce -- but tikka is already so saucy. (We should have stuck with tandoori chicken). The Paneer was good, as was the tandoori; skip the tikka.

Chickpea

Will we return:If I'm nearby and need a quick, fast meal.
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