Football in L.A.

Football in L.A. is mostly the Trojans. Sure the town now has two pro teams, neither of which are the Raiders, and UCLA has been playing well the past few years, but still, when people here think of pro football, odds are they mean soccer.But the Rams are back in town and no matter with whom they share a stadium, be it Carl Lewis or Marcus Allen, they will all be playing in one of America’s most iconic venues.

I will watch anyone play football any where, but not every game is played in a place with an olympic cauldron {insert shout-out to the University of Utah here}. Now granted, most other venues have better luxury suites, or tailgating, or at least one modern bell or whistle, but none of them are in Los Angeles.

And being in L.A. means elote and agua fresca. Everywhere should have elote.

Now forgive my limited sample size (just LA and Philly), but here is what I can say from what I have seen- or experienced. Rams crowds are about 1/28th as aggressive as Eagles crowds. Perhaps it is because of the better weather, or because you would need a pitcher’s arm in order to hurl a battery from the cheap seats to the field in the Coliseum, but I saw people wearing the other team’s jersey in the stands without harassment. I got a sun burn. No one hurled obscenities at their own team’s players. But, in both places, the players ran, tackled, threw, caught and kicked.

And football fans were pretty much still themselves.

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Langer’s: just order #19

Los Angeles isn’t know for delis,but those in LA know about Langer’s.IMG_0135

As far as decor and location go it is just a regular diner, big menu, self seating. What sets Langer’s apart is thick cut pastrami and good bread. Never forget the bread. Norah Ephron called the #19 the best pastrami in the world.IMG_0121

The place has been around since 1947, been written up by everyone who writes about LA, and been on every food tour television show there is. It’s just Langer’s.IMG_0195

Norm Langer is still there hanging around chatting it up with everyone. It’s his place and he doesn’t mind mixing it up with the Hollywood types and the nobody’s alike. He mixed it up with us, and if you were wondering, we are the Hollywood types.IMG_0132

Republique:when nerds on PBS are cooler than you

I am not Stephon from Saturday Night Live. I do not know the cool place in town that has everything. In fact I’m so much the un-Stephon that I am now taking my advice on spots to frequent from PBS.

Turns out nerds on PBS give great advice.image2If you need some sort of cool factor third party verification in order to form opinions than take some solace in the fact that GQ listed Republique as one of the best places in LA to eat, and then they went on to say LA is one of the best food cities in America.

Looks like the nerds and the cool kids will be sitting at the same lunch tableimage4You order your food at the front counter then go have a seat in your choice of high ceiling, naturally lit dining rooms. For a Saturday morning brunch at 9am we waited in line for about 40 minutes. There was no wait for a place to sit down and once we were inside it felt busy but in no way crowded.image5We grabbed a creme brulee filled pastry to tide the kids over till the food showed up. Then, the lightest, thickest, French toast I’ve ever dealt with, a breakfast sandwich, and a waffle with every California stereotype stacked on top.image3

Sometimes stereotypes turn out fantastic… when it comes to food.image7Did I mention they make their own ginger ale? And hazelnut hot chocolate. And their own bread. And on and on and at the end of it all the point is that sometimes tv and glossy magazines give good advice, and then in this case, when it comes to Republique, they give the best advice.image1

An Uprising in Watts We Can All Appreciate.

Watts, a neighborhood in LA, has a reputation among some as a dangerous place. So much so that when we looked up directions and reviews of the Watts towers we were told there is no parking, the neighborhood is dangerous and you should only go there with a paid tour. Don’t believe that.
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I’m not exactly sure what Watts was like in 1921 when Sabato Rodia moved in, but it appears Rodia wasn’t satisfied with the place. Maybe he was bored, or just had a vision, I couldn’t say. But I do know what he did; he built something inspirational.

It was,or rather is, inspirational in that this guy, and really he was just some guy, a construction worker, took it upon himself to do something. If those towers that he built out of scraps and broken things was the result of boredom, awesome. He conquered his boredom.

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If the towers grew out of some aspiration for greatness or achievement, wonderful. He achieved it (the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks). He didn’t contract someone to build him some towers, he didn’t move to somewhere towers already existed, he didn’t sit and pine for towers, he didn’t sit and wallow in boredom, he built towers.

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Not everyone was cool with his towers. Well, mostly the neighborhood was cool with it but the establishment wasn’t. He didn’t have a permit. It would have been hard to apply for a permit especially since he had no plans before or during the building. He just kind of built it. He built over a span of 33 years. 33 years to build a complex system of concrete and re-bar towers standing 99 feet in the air.

The City of Los Angeles ordered the towers torn down.

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But he didn’t do it. He persisted in not tearing down the towers till he was too old to argue and he simply “quit” the property and moved away. In 1959 a couple of actors bought the place with the intent of preserving it. LA is a town that respects its actors and by the late 50’s the whole world knew about these things, they were already icons.

They still stand.

They are there and they are worth going to see. Ignore the online whimpering from people who think there are parts of town that simply can’t be visited. The towers have survived there this whole time, you can survive an hour.

Donut Friend: your new BFF

The first thing you should know about Donut Friend, is when they are open. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday; 7am-10pm. Friday and Saturday they are open 7am to midnight. You need to know this because no matter where you live, you need to go to Donut Friend and it would be a shame to get there and find the doors locked.

Not that I know anyone who has ever done that, I’m just sayin’.IMG_3210

Once you are there, and they are open, you order just about anything you could ever want. They may even have things you didn’t know you wanted, but once you see it, now you want it.

For instance, we all know that we want a traditional donut filled with lime cream, topped with vanilla glaze and graham cracker crumbs. What I didn’t know I wanted was cream cheese, strawberry jam, and fresh basil inside a traditional donut, topped with vanilla glaze and balsamic reduction.

I’m a sucker for balsamic reduction.IMG_3137

Should you want to create your own concoction, you can. Not only can you, but the staff, at lest the ones who were there when I went, every time I have “went”, has been the sort of helpful folks who appear to like what they are doing when they are serving you sugary cakes topped with maple glaze and bacon.

Who wouldn’t be happy serving that?

 

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I know, I know, vegetarians wouldn’t be happy serving that. But not to fear, if one is not only vegetarian but vegan, they got options for you too.

I do say “you” because I am not one. But some of my best friends are. Like Donut Friend. Donut Friend is one of my best vegan friends.

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These plants are not donuts, they are decor. They have decor because they are located in Highland Park, which is newly cool, and to fit in you must have decor.

 

 

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But you come for the donuts.

 

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Edible Joy from a Food Truck.

I heard about Kogi from Anthony Bourdain. I met Anthony on Netflix and my first impression was that he tries a little bit too hard to be cool. I am of course a world authority on cool and Anthony’s overt efforts made me skeptical of his food recommendations. I normally prefer my food recommendations from people who have met me, which you cannot do via Netflix, but there was something about this particular recommendation that gave me pause.

Kimchi quesadilla.

From a food truck.IMG_4101

Okay. Rewind that a bit and I will happily listen to your cynical voice over laced with expletives just to find out where I get kimchi quesadillas from a food truck.

Kogi. You get them at Kogi. You get them, you smell them, you eat them, and your mouth explodes. It is a happy explosion. If you were to be rude and chew with your mouth open, the sound of singing angels would escape. Those angels would sing in both Korean and Spanish, neither of which I understand, but taste buds are apparently polyglots.IMG_4096

Mr. Bourdain. You were right. I apologize and you can say whatever you want however you want as long as you point me to places like Kogi.