Archive for the ‘Culver City’ Category

Eat Vegetarian

On Mother’s Day we tried OOAK, the new Asian Vegetarian restaurant in Culver City. We had pumpkin soup and shaking beef (actually mushrooms). The Cantonese food and the service were excellent. I asked for the meaning of the word OOAK. It’s an Internet acronym for “One Of A Kind.”

OOAK, Culver City

This made me reflect on the advantages of a vegetarian diet, that has been popular in the West since the counterculture 60s. That means eliminating any meat (beef, lamb, pork, veal, chicken) or fish from your food intake, eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. When fish and seafood are allowed, that is a pescetarian diet; when eggs and dairy products are included, that is called ovo-lacto vegetarian. No animals are killed when eggs and milk are produced, however, fish are killed for us to eat them, and, as a friend of mine says: “I don’t eat anything that had eyes.” The Macrobiotic diet, inspired by Zen Buddhism, allows fish.

OOAK, Culver City

A vegetarian diet is sometimes chosen for ethical reasons, “do not kill living beings,” even though arguably plants are living as well; but it is also beneficial to your health, reducing animal fat, proven to cause cancer, high-blood pressure, and other diseases.
During the past few years a vegan diet has been promoted as even healthier; that means no animal products at all, no eggs, no cheese, no milk, no yogurt. But often, in order to simulate the taste of meat and cheese, soy products and other substitutes are used.
Even more extreme is a diet of raw food. In addition to no meat or animal products, there’s no cooking, as the heat removes some enzymes from vegetables.

MAKE OUT, Culver City

For me eating meals of fresh fruit, salads and steamed vegetables, cooked lentils and beans, feels healthy, but it’s not a religion. I believe in what novelist Barbara Kingsolver says in her 2007 non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, that eating grass-fed beef and organic chicken is okay, and environmentally responsible. Reading that book was eye-opening, and it set me on a path of healthier eating. I love making blended vegan soups with a variety of cooked vegetables and spices. For more on this subject, you may read my article Souping for Health in Cultural Weekly.

MAKE OUT, Culver City.

See below some Westside restaurants that offer vegan, vegetarian or raw food.

SAGE, Culver City

Among the fast food chains, I like Veggie Grill, inexpensive and tasty. Recently I tried Daily Harvest, a vegan food delivery service of fruits smoothies, cooked vegetable soups and legumes.  I really liked it.

SAGE, Culver City

Of course, you are able to make vegetarian food choices at most restaurants; just eat salads, vegetable dishes and legumes. Indian, Thai, Chinese cuisines have delicious vegetarian specialties. My favorites are Szechuan eggplant and Baingan bharta (mashed eggplant).

SAGE, Culver City

OOAK. Asian Vegetarian Cuisine
9540 Washington Blvd, Culver City

SAGE. Plant Based Bistro
4130 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City

MAKE OUT. Raw food
9426 Washington Blvd, Culver City

VEGAN JOINT. Since 2006
10438 National Blvd, LA 90034

ANNAPURNA. South Indian vegetarian
10200 Venice Blvd, Culver City

INDIA SWEETS & SPICES. Indian vegetarian, since 1986
9409 Venice Blvd, Culver City

REAL FOOD DAILY. Organic plant-based
414 N La Cienega Blvd. LA 90048

GRACIAS MADRE. Mexican Vegan
8905 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood

Text and Photos by Elisa Leonelli

Pasta Sisters in Culver City

Pasta Sisters finally opened on Sunday March 4, at Helms Bakery in Culver City, and it was worth the wait. It was an exciting experience to be there on their first day.

Pasta Sisters, Helms

My family and friends became fans of their storefront takeout place at Pico and Arlington, as soon as they opened, three years ago. We especially love their lasagne and eggplant parmesan.

Pasta Sisters patio

Now that they have a nearby restaurant with two outdoor patios, we will be able to enjoy their delicious food comfortably seated. The menu was expanded from their signature fresh pasta dishes, with the addition of several items, including beef stew and polenta (spezzatino con polenta Valsugana), a specialty of Padova, the Italian city in the Veneto region where the sisters are from.

Paola Da Re

Paola and her sisters Luisa and Patrizia learnt to cook from their mother Maria Giovanna. Paola is the chef, son Francesco, daughters Giorgia and Francesca help her run the family business. Paola credits the enthusiasm of their 40 employees and the optimism of her children for the successful opening of their new venture.

Francesco

On my first day I tried panzerotti, an appetizer I never tasted before, fried dough with two different hot stuffings, spinach and ricotta cheese, Italian cooked ham and mozzarella. They were amazing. I look forward to going back many more times and trying all of their dishes.

Giorgia, Francesca

For more info on where to find authentic Italian food in Los Angeles, or prepare it yourself, you may read my articles in Cultural Weekly
Italian Bread, Modena style
Fresh pasta, Modena-style

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Pasta Sisters staff

Movie Studios-Culver City

After the news that Amazon Studios will be moving into Culver Studios at 9336 Washington Blvd, we looked into the history of this movie studio.

Culver Studios (c) Elisa Leonelli

It was built by silent movie producer-director Thomas Ince in 1918 on a lot acquired from Harry Culver, who founded Culver City in 1917. It was owned by director Cecil B. De Mille from 1925 to 1928, then by RKO-Pathé from 1933 to 1950. For several years it was leased by David O’ Selznick, producer of Gone with the Wind (1939). In 1950 it was purchased Howard Hughes, who continued to lease it. In 1956 it was bought by Lucille and Desi Arnaz for their Desilu Studios; they renamed it Culver Studios in 1970. It was acquired by Sony Pictures in 1991 and its 13 sound stages have housed the production of countless movies. See list and history at this link.

MGM Studios Colonnade (c) Elisa Leonelli

And here’s the history of the most legendary movie studio, MGM, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, that was not located in Hollywood but in Culver City, which in 1936 was dubbed “The Heart of Screenland.” It was built in 1915 as Triangle Studios by Thomas Ince, who moved its Inceville here from the Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset, then sold the lot to Samuel Goldwyn in 1918. Its original colonnade entrance along Washington Blvd in Greek-revival style is still standing. In 1924 it became MGM Studios, after the merger of three companies: Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Studios, Louis B. Mayer Productions. In 1981 it merged with United Artists into MGM-UA, it was sold to Lorimar in 1986. In 1989 Warner Bros, who had bought Lorimar, sold the lot to Columbia Pictures, that had been acquired by Sony, the Japanese tech giant. Sony Pictures spent $100 million to completely renovate the historic studio to its former glory, including the 1938 Thalberg building.

Culver Hotel (c) Elisa Leonelli

Harry Culver built the Culver Hotel in 1924 in Renaissance revival style, renovated in 2013, with 46 rooms and a lively restaurant.

The Helms Bakery was built as the official bakery of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

No longer standing is another movie studio in Culver City, the Hal Roach Studios (1919-1963)

In the parking lot in front of Culver Studios, construction has started for a retail and restaurant complex called The Culver Steps. It is scheduled to open in 2019 like the giant 500,000 square feet Ivy Station in the parking lot of the Expo station that closed in February.

Sony Studios, Culver gate (c) Elisa Leonelli

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Food markets

The Santa Monica Coop, at 1525 Broadway since 1995, opened another location in Culver City. It’s called Coopportunity Market & Deli, it’s located at 8770 Washington Blvd and National.

Coop, Culver City

I went to check it out today and found a wide variety of choices, organic fruits and vegetables, grown without pesticides, grass-fed beef raised without antibiotics, cage free chicken wings, crusted wild salmon, hot pizza, poke bowls and much more. It has free underground parking and tables to sit and eat from their salad bar and cooked food selections.

Sprouts, Culver City

It is a welcome addition to the nearby Sprouts that opened last September at 8985 Venice Blvd and to Trader Joe’s at 9290 Culver Blvd.
The Coop is planning a Grand Opening celebration on September 9, don’t miss it.

Trader Joe’s, Culver City

I frequent many other food markets that offer salad bars, hot soups and prepared meals, such as Whole Foods at 11666 National Blvd and Barrington. Amazon already started lowering the prices today, after their recent acquisition.
Gelson’s in Century City, Bristol Farms at 3105 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, Erewhon at 7660 Beverly Blvd and Fairfax LA 90036, Lassens at 710 S LaBrea and Wilshire.

I do love cooking my favorite recipes at home, and I constantly experiment with new dishes, but I also enjoy the quick satisfaction of trying different tasty and healthy foods prepared by others, while shopping for groceries at these markets.

Coop, Culver City

Click on all the red links for more info, please write your comments.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

New Restaurants-Culver City

Baco Shop 17awWe were curious about several new restaurants that opened recently in downtown Culver City, replacing others that closed, so we took a walk, looked at their menus and sampled some of their food. We favored inexpensive and unpretentious establishments, offering healthy choices.
For example the baby kale salad at BACO SHOP (424) 258 6301, 9552 Washington Blvd, the grain bowl with black lentils at CAVA (23) 230 5027 , 9343 Culver Blvd, the Angry Avocado roll at RAMEN ROLL (310) 426 8926, 9900 Culver Blvd.
Ramen Roll 17-2awWe also indulged with the Chicken Karaage at TENTENYU (424) 603 4803, 3849 Main St. It was yummi (and boneless), much better (if not comparable) than HONEY KETTLE’S FRIED CHICKEN, rated number one in Los Angeles by LAist, Thrillist and Los Angeles Magazine (if you don’t mind waiting 30 minutes or more).

For a list of our favorite restaurants in Culver City check the RVNA website.

Please go explore and comment with YOUR favorite choices. Thanks!

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Pizza Pop Up

Roberta's Pizza

Roberta’s Pizza (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was checking their website to see if Sweetgreen had opened at Platform in Culver City (it has), and saw this page about Roberta’s Pizza. I was born in Italy, so I’m always on the lookout for authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurants in LA, and the photos of these pizzas looked promising. So today I went for lunch with a friend, we ordered one pizza to share, the Bee Sting with spicy soppressata, and after the first bite we had to immediately order a second. To be fair, these pies are quite small. They had set up a shack under the Expo line bridge, with wooden tables in front, and placed their awesome clay pizza oven outdoors.  I asked how long they were going to be there and they said they are leaving in 10 days, February 12, drive the pizza oven back to the original Roberta’s in Brooklyn. I told them that the parking lot for the Expo across the street would close on February 14, for construction of a commercial and residential complex, and they said, “We’re leaving just in time, then.”

Sweetgreen (c) Elisa Leonelli

Sweetgreen (c) Elisa Leonelli

We also did check out Sweetgreen, where you can get healthy salads, warm bowls, and fruit juices, made from local organic ingredients.
Platform is at 8840 Washington Blvd, Culver City 90232. See post on this blog.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Romantic Bookstore

It was only a few days ago, while reading an article in Los Angeles Magazine about the 14 Best Mom and Pop bookstores in L.A., that I discovered The Ripped Bodice, A Romantic Bookstore, in downtown Culver City.  It opened March 4, 2016, after a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $90,000.  It’s the dream project of two sisters, Bea, 27, and Leah, 25, smart and accomplished young women. Leah graduated from USC in Visual and Performing Arts, Bea studied Fashion History at NYU, her master thesis was titled “Mending the Ripped Bodice.”

Bea, photo (c) Elisa Leonelli

Bea (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was so intrigued that I immediately contacted the sisters. Bea graciously received me and answered my questions. “Bodice Rippers” is a term used for erotic romance novels of the 1970s and 80s. Bea said they wanted to poke fun at that popular perception, and immediately communicate to their fans, “This store is for you.” “Sex is not something that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about, we all come from sex. It’s completely insane to me the way sex is discussed in this country, and all these issues that women are facing right now.  We’ve reverted into this dark age.”
Their store carries all sub-genres in the romance novels category, from paranormal to LGBTQ, and they host community events. “Thursday December 15, 8pm, is our monthly romantic comedy night, and this month we are collecting travel size toiletries to donate to women shelters in Los Angeles.”

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The store is huge and bright, decorated like a comfortable home, with armchairs and couches for reading, books are piled up everywhere. Get over there, it’s well worth a visit.

The Ripped Bodice: 424-603 4776
3806 Main St. Culver City, CA 90232

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli