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November 3, 2008
Six years ago I lost patience with IKEA glassware (I think the Swedish name was EZ SHATAH or KØNSTNT BRAK).
Since I’m saddled with butterfingers, as well as many drunk friends, restaurant-quality replacements seemed fitting. The Dish Factory in downtown Los Angeles promised glassware “made to withstand the grueling day-to-day hustle and bustle of commercial use,” so I bought wine glasses, pint glasses, lowballs and highballs.
As astonishing as it may be, I’ve had only one casualty since 2002.
The experience of shopping the dusty warehouse is not without its irony. The greatest incentive to buy there (supplies for restaurateurs) is also the biggest drawback. Restaurants buy in bulk (a dozen cheese shakers, anyone?), so the more you slice and dice the standard cartons, the steeper the premium. We ended up ordering twice the glasses we planned, but we made it work — extras stocked our swanky new wet bar.
The Dish Factory, in the same location and with the same owner for 30 years, carries regular household supplies like china, pizza pans and ice cream scoops. Still, my favorite thing to do is map out my dream kitchen with their commercial equipment like 50-pound deep fryers ($599.99) and three-tier pastry cases ($124.99).
Now that’s a step above IKEA JÜNK.
Where: 310 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (a second location opened in the Inland Empire)
Related link | home + garden
October 29, 2008
Los Angeles has a place for most kinds of people. Like watching women beat each other while roller skating? Derby Dolls. Want to eat brown bread ice cream? Scoops. Want to go so over-the-top with Christmas decorations that you’ll be sneezing tinsel till March? Moskatel’s.
Curious? Then head to the gigantic craft and floral supply warehouse hidden in a gritty part of downtown. Walking in is like that scene when Dorothy lands in Oz and the movie goes from sepia-tone to a psychedelic riot of color. Only instead of the Kansas countryside, there are homeless people, and instead of Munchkins, find party stuff, wedding supplies, frames, craft materials, art supplies, silk flowers, decor items, vases and ribbons. They even have all the stuff decorators use on TV and in magazines, like a six-foot tall Santa and eight reindeer made entirely of twigs. You’ll find what you need for cheap, cheap, cheap (and even cheaper if you have a wholesaler’s license).
I’ve yet to understand Moskatel’s relationship to its owner, craft giant Michael’s, which is why I took so long to blog about its glorious riches. I’ve decided that it is some kind of ugly stepchild – not even good enough to be featured on the Michael’s website. That just makes it all the more fitting for Los Angeles. Moskatel’s may have a place for you, and Los Angeles has a place for Moskatel’s.
Park: Validated parking adjacent to the store.
When: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Related links | more downtown
Shop at Michael Levine’s Fabric
October 26, 2008
Expert Opinions are tips from L.A.’s ultimate insiders. In honor of the upcoming holiday, today I’m re-posting contributor and fashion stylist Alexandra Haines’ Halloween post!
Halloween is the one time of year where you can wear whatever you want — forget appropriateness and decency! For a fashionista, it is THE national holiday. I start early — real early — and cast a wide net.
A destination in and of itself, this hideaway earns regular mentions in the pages of Vogue and stocks an amazing collection of vintage clothes. But come Halloween, they load up extras like masks and tutus in a rainbow of colors. In Topanga Canyon right off the main drag, this is a great stop for retro costumes for men and women.
Whether I’m pulling together a costume for a man or woman, this is my mecca for costume extras. Yes, it is a fully functioning costume shop that has not (blessedly) be remodeled since the 60′s. But it also offers a huge supply of wigs and Venetian masks, a wall of fake eyelashes, all types of glitter spray, and my new wardrobe standard — Vegas-style feather headdresses (really, once you buy one you’ll find there are all sorts of occasions to wear it).
I’d say Squaresville is a hipper, cleaner version of Aardvarks, where the buyers really care about what they’re stocking. Some of my greatest regrets come from not buying beautiful pieces I found there, like a sequined butterfly top, trashy white fur coat or an original prairie dress. These wouldn’t have made it into my everyday wardrobe, but could make fantastic retro costumes. Find costumes for men and women.
Got no time and are just going to dress in a skimpy outfit with some sort of animal ears? Try walking Hollywood Boulevard for their cheap costume/lingerie shops and amazing wig shops.
I am a stylist who has been designing clothes and accessories and styling photo shoots. That wouldn’t mean anything if I wasn’t intrinsically interested in how individuals can express themselves uniquely in their dress. Expect no cookie cutter advice here.
Call: 310-908-7605 (Alexandra)
October 7, 2008
Filed under: On the Road — StyleGuide @ 7:31 pm
A great way to appreciate the golden years if you aren’t already there is wiling away a late October weekend in Palm Desert.
The temperature languors in the 90s, the vibe is easy and slow, and the golf carts ditch the green and head down El Paseo in the Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade.
It seems half the town pimps out their rides with all manner of decor, a Rose Parade with pint-sized floats. The elements combine for a strange alchemy of small-town gathering and golf carts freshly victimized by hard-core glue gun-wielding crafters after a half-price sale at Michael’s.
That’s how the elderly roll in Palm Desert.
This year the parade falls on October 26, so there’s time to book a room (maybe something old school like The Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs). Fuel up before the parade with breakfast at a place Gramps would love — and probably even visited as a teen — Keedy’s Fountain and Grill in Palm Desert. A time capsule of a diner, nothing much has changed since 1957 — and the place is the stronger for it. Join the clientele of all ages (including regulars who have logged decades of daily meals at the original yellow Formica counter) for a malt in a frosty silver cup and a $5 “Keedy’s Fix” burger.
What better way to indulge the senior citizen who lives inside of you, longing to complain about joint pain and aspiring for a 6 p.m. bedtime ?
Related Links | more desert fun
August 31, 2008
Filed under: Play — StyleGuide @ 4:38 pm
An unsung benefit of L.A.’s density is that the place is crawling with extension courses, and all offer cheap instruction, convenient hours and minimal commitment. Over the years I’ve matriculated at a half a dozen public adult schools — here’s a round-up:
- The at Beverly Hills High School is a central location for a random assortment of courses (like the classes I’ve taken on import/export, skin care, organizing and negotiation). Adult School
- I’ve sampled real estate, Spanish and a great meditation class from Santa Monica College Continuing and Community Education’s massive buffet of programs.
- There was another Spanish class at East L.A. College Extension Courses in Monterey Park, and an enlightening Chinese brush painting class at Rio Hondo College Community Service Classes in Whitter.
- Of course, UCLA Extension is the granddaddy of community education, and while pricey, I’ve found the quality of instruction to be much higher. After trying writing classes elsewhere on the cheap, the extra money to take the class at UCLA was well worth it.
- For computer training, I’ve had the best luck with online courses that let me go at my own pace. Otherwise “power users” wait hours for their classmates to figure out how to turn on their computers, and neophytes feel like problem children. Santa Monica College offers a ton of options.
Three reasons I love community education:
- The unexpected. It’s a real crap-shoot the day you walk into class. My dad says you’ll always learn something, even if it is just the instructor’s name. Often that’s true. Other times you just might find brilliance.
- Low commitment. It is a cheap way to get an introduction to something completely new — whether hobby, career or Ikebana.
- Interesting people. The characters of all ages who populate these classes are part of the allure. On more than one occasion, walking through the door has felt like stumbling into a retirement home. But no class is more friendly or encouraging than a bunch of seniors.
When my life gets a little stale, I turn to community education classes. They always seem to work like steaming cups of brain caffeine.
This is a partial list of community education in L.A., where do you go? What was your craziest class? Tell us.
Related links | dining near schools
July 23, 2008
Filed under: On the Road — StyleGuide @ 7:52 pm
We hopped the train to San Diego to visit Jennifer, a StylishGuide inspiration and dear friend gifted with the ability to conjure up luxe bargains. As tour guide, she lived up to her reputation, turning a “diamonds and denim” town like La Jolla into a destination for the cheap and chic.
Ever the thoughtful host, she drove us straight from the San Diego train station to afternoon margaritas. Jose’s Court Room on Prospect is an unrepentant dive bar, though one with multi-million dollar wide open ocean views from the bar stools. A pitcher of frosty margaritas was followed by chips, salsa and creamy guacamole, plus Jose’s tacos (a deal at $3-4 each), and combos for a few bucks more (try the fish taco).
At 4 p.m., she led us a few blocks away to Roppongi. This is an upscale place, with a fire pit on the patio and a dark, moody interior. The trick is to hit happy hour — 4 – 6 p.m. seven days a week – when they take half off sushi rolls and Asian tapas, like tender and flavorful scallops on potato pancakes. Even at half price, this isn’t bargain basement sushi (but let’s be honest — who in the world wants bargain basement sushi?). Nevertheless, it is a stylish destination for an early dinner at a decent price.
For our “get out of town and drink ‘em down” La Jolla vacation, Jennifer delivered.
Related links | eating well closer to home
Asian food: Empress Pavilion for dim sum
Mexican food: El Cholo for margaritas and tamales
July 16, 2008
My parents came of age at the same time as Sinatra and Martin, and all my life they have honored what I consider a very Rat Pack tradition — “cocktail hour.” While they only drink on weekends, when the clock strikes 5 Thursday through Sunday, crudites, cheese, crackers, wine and martinis appear and levity begins.
This is the happy hour I grew up with, a family tradition as treasured as opening presents on chilly Christmas mornings. However, life in L.A. — what with late hours at work, traffic jams, and trips to the Parking Violations Bureau to pay near-constant parking tickets — doesn’t always lend itself to a 5 p.m. cocktail hour. That’s why seven-day happy hours have a special place in my heart (or is it liver?).
Sushi & Kushi IMAI has mastered the art of the seven-day happy hour. Housed in an odd triangular building that juts out where Wilshire and San Vicente collide, the bar makes up half the seating area but maintains a welcoming, restaurant-like feel.
The food is an improvement over my parents’ celery sticks and homemade dip of equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise. Happy hour offerings include a house salad of mixed greens and a big bowl of edamame, each for under $2 and served by the restaurant’s friendly young owner. Salmon/avocado roll or spicy tuna roll runs a slim $3, and sashimi (salmon, seared albacore or tuna) goes for $6.50. Don’t eat fish? Grilled lamb chop and vegetable tempura round out the menu. A mere $3 gets you a large Kirin or glass of wine, or choose a large hot sake for the table for $5.50.
When hit by nostalgia for those home-style cocktail hours just like Mama and Daddy used to do it, I head to the corner table at Sushi & Kushi IMAI.
When: Happy hour, 5:30-7:30 everyday
Related links | more evening fun
July 7, 2008
I’m in the midst of a doughnut obsession, as you may have noticed here and here. Since Los Angeles reigns as the undisputed doughnut capital of the world, I suppose it is a matter of civic pride. In that spirit, here are six more standard bearers.
Dumpy strip mall + two letter names = amazing doughnuts? Apparently. Try:
2. S.K. Donuts & Croissants: Head to Mid-city near Park La Brea and sink into a moist, luscious buttermilk bar or rich cruller. Bonus: It’s open late for post-bar-hopping appetites.
Doughnut as architecture — these two shops prove it works:
4. The Donut Hole: Thrill the kid in you with a special trip out to a random intersection in La Puente for a doughnut that you actually drive through (see the video here). The architecture is icing on the cake, so to speak; the main attraction is the fresh doughnuts within.
5. Stan’s Corner Donut Shoppe: This legendary shop has been crafting gourmet doughnuts for more than 40 years. If your timing is right, Stan himself will recommend his favorites — welcome help since he probably has more flavors than there are parking spots in all of Westwood.
6. Tang’s Donuts: The bear claw — big as the real thing, fat with fluffy cinnamon-spiked dough — is worth attacking. Nights bring an eclectic Silver Lake crowd, including hard-core chess addicts, to the grungy strip mall location.
July 2, 2008
The amazing half-off plant sale runs this weekend — July 3-6 — so I am re-posting this tip.
When we bought our first house a few years ago, this is the front yard we got. It was our first attempt at gardening, so I looked to Martha Stewart for guidance. Her books told me to propagate my own plants or risk going broke at the nursery.
Propagate? Are you kidding me?
That’s what 7 Oaks’ half-off plant sale is for. I don’t often go to the 951, but when the sprawling nursery off the 15 in Corona takes 50 percent off every plant they have — from trees in 36 inch boxes to the smallest annual — I make the long drive.
Sales are held twice yearly, over the Columbus Day and Fourth of July weekends. If you decide to check it out, here are a few tips. First, the sale has become quite popular, so shop early for the best selection. Second, take advantage of the neat little sandwich shop in the 7 Oaks convenience store.
Load your truck, then fuel up on fresh sandwiches for the drive home.
When: Thursday, July 3 through Sunday, July 6, 2008
Where: 21501 Temescal Canyon Road, Corona, Ca 92883
What’s your best gardening tip?
June 23, 2008
I’m a big believer in focus. Tiger Woods on the green focus. Skinny dog next to the barbecue focus. Drill-bit/pinpoint/eye-on-the-prize type focus.
Hence I have a great appreciation for Bella Pita.
This unassuming Westwood shop has pared its entire operation down to the bare minimum. It’s like they’ve taken everything you’d expect from a dining establishment, examined it, then figured out how to eliminate it or delegate it so they can focus on what they do best: delicious, super-cheap falafel pita.
Boy does it work. Take the three quick steps from the front door to the counter to place your order. Bella Pita doesn’t cook it until you order it, so wait until your three falafel patties — light, moist and flavorful — are delivered from the deep fryer and nestled into a soft, warm, fresh-baked pita.
That’s it. That’s all they do.
They don’t load your pita for you — that’s delegated. A sharp salad bar offers roasted cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and pickled turnips, hot sauce, white sauce, and hummus pumped from a ball-park-style ketchup dispenser.
Next they eliminated variety. The spare menu sports about six choice, tops. Ambiance? Gone. While they have a clean, spacious kitchen, the entryway is shunted off to a space the size of a VW bus (only with less seating than a VW bus). Decor? Forget it.
At Bella Pita, get your pita, pimp it out as fat as you want, then get on your way. Now that’s focus.
More cheap eats that come wrapped in bread: