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

Halloween

Bedford St (c) Elisa leonelli

Bedford St (c) Elisa Leonelli

 

Reynier Village celebrated Halloween with many neighborhood activities. Residents decorated their homes with pumpkins, skeletons and graves, kids went out trick or treating dressed in scary costumes.  The Relational Center on Robertson held a party for the community. RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association) organized a costume parade in Reynier Park on Sunday morning.

RVNA parade © Kimberly Villatoro

RVNA parade © Kimberly Villatoro

The history of this celebration is rooted in the Celtic tradition of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season. People dressed in costumes to disguise themselves from spirits, who they believed came back to life to kill their crops. They went door to door to ask for food to offer the ghouls in exchange for mercy.” (watch video in Time online)
October 31 is the night before All Saints Day, a Catholic holiday set by the Church for November 1 to discourage this pagan belief, thereby the name Halloween is short for All Hallows Eve.  All Souls Day is November 2, when Catholics visit the tombs of their dearly departed.  In Mexico and Latin America the Day of the Dead is a huge 3-day festival.

Text by Elisa Leonelli

Sprouts is here!

sprouts-w

I have been shopping at Sprouts for years, ever since they opened their first Los Angeles area store on Sepulveda at Jefferson in 2010. I was glad when they took over a location on Westwood Blvd, since that is closer to my regular routes. Recently I tried their new LaBrea store at Willoughby.  So I was very excited today to finally shop at their latest store on Venice Blvd, so close to my neighborhood.  It’s a place where I already go often, to shop at Trader Joe’s, or the sadly departed Office Max, to watch movies at the new Arclight Cinemas, to eat at my favorite restaurants in downtown Culver City, like EnjoyEat.

vegetables

I did my regular shopping, I love their Strouds brand of gelato, their heirloom tomatoes, their nuts, lentils and beans in bulk, their salad bar, their home-made sausages. But this was a special day.  The atmosphere was festive, with frequent buzzing sounds, just like at the slot machines in Las Vegas, when every 15th customer won a booklet of coupons.  They were giving away green recyclable bags and passing out sushi tastings.  You can also see the discounts on their website.

Sprouts. 8985 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 (424) 361-6611

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Gelato on Robertson

Luca Monaco 1w

Monaco- Fabbrica di Gelato finally opened on Friday September 2 at 2633 Robertson Blvd. 203-979 6346.  Their hours are Thursday to Sunday from 12 noon to 8pm.
Residents of Reynier Village and Castle Heights already love walking over there to taste this delicious ice-cream freshly made Italian style, in flavors like Cappuccino, Hazelnut, Tiramisu, Gianduia, etc.
Many neighbors contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that by May 2 had reached the $10,000 goal in only 2 weeks. The work to refurbish the old store was completed 4 months later.
This is a labor of love from a passionate young man, Luca Monaco. He was raised in Montreal by his French mother and Italian father, and now lives in Santa Monica.

Welcome Luca. Benvenuto.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli
P.S. Winter Hours: Thursday to Sunday from 1pm to 5pm

Dolce Isola is Capri

Dolce Isola 4sWe enjoy having Dolce Isola on Robertson, the bakery of the Ivy restaurant; they serve breakfast, sandwiches, salads and ice-cream.  The downstairs space is way too small, but they do have a few more quiet tables upstairs. Ever since they opened in 2007 we sometimes order their pricey food for the summer park nights organized by our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, where neighbors get together to eat, chat and have fun.  This week I wanted to get cookies from Dolce Isola for the last park night of 2016, since we had bought them from Fred’s Bakery on Robertson and Grand Casino in Culver City for the other park nights.  But I was unhappy that they only had one choice: chocolate chip cookies, so I bought Tiramisu instead.  I adore this delicious Italian custard, that literally means “pick me up” and I make it myself with soft mascarpone cheese.  The Dolce Isola version was so fabulous that many people attending the social evening asked for seconds.  Only after I got home I noticed the green design on the paper bag.  The Isola=island that is so sweet=dolce, is Capri, off the coast of Naples.  The descriptions read in Italian: the island of Love, the island of Sun, Arrivederci a Capri=let’s meet again in Capri.

Isola-Capri 1sDolce Isola 3s

So if you can’t travel to the real place in Italy, you should go to our local Dolce Isola at 2869 Robertson and have a leisurely good time, Italian style.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Culver City summer

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Yesterday I checked out the Summertini event in Culver City. I discovered that the name means small tastings of martinis, vodka mixed with different fruit juices.  They were served in tiny (tini) plastic cups, not only at restaurants, but also at art galleries (The Whole 9) and a gift shop (Lundeen).  My favorite place turned out to be Grilliant, because they offered me a full size Winetini in a real glass.  The best location was the Kirk Douglas Theater lobby, where tea, not alcohol, was available and a platter of assorted cheeses and fruit.  I had seen an amusing play there in April, Women Laughing Alone with Salad, and I loved the atmosphere.  They had a backdrop set up where photographs of audience members were taken holding fake salad bowls in front of virtual scenery. Very cool. Take a look at their fall/winter season.
The Third Wednesday event for August 17 is called Tropical Staycation.  It’s the 5th annual Spiked Tropical Punch Tasting, so check it out.
Free summer concerts have been taking place for years in the courtyard at City Hall. Tonight July 21 it’s Latin Salsa dancing rhythms.  See program for the upcoming Thursdays: July 28, August 4 and 11.  Our favorite way to enjoy these evenings is to sit at Hikari across the street and listen to the music, while eating sushi and drinking sake.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Platform on Washington

Platform

Platform

Last week, after picking up the delicious Gazpacho soup from Smart Simple Gourmet at 3731 Robertson, I took a walk on Washington Blvd going East. This used to be a long stretch of road with no shops, mostly occupied by car dealerships, but recently a fancy shopping mall called Platform has been constructed and opened in March. A desirable location, especially now that the Expo Line has been extended to Santa Monica. The Culver City station is right across the street.

Aesop

Aesop

Some of the shops have yet to open, but there are quite enough interesting places to warrant a visit. So I went back the following day to explore and take some pictures. I watched families with small children play in the numerous sitting areas bordered by drought tolerant landscaping, I saw customers with their laptops lounge on various terraces, I noticed an event organized by the LA Film Festival at the photo studio Lightbox, I walked into SoulCycle and thought I might like to try this type of exercise, I chatted with the salespeople at Aesop, skin care products, and they offered me a cup of tea.

Loqui

Loqui

I had a tasty lunch at Lochi, Mexican tacos and quesadillas wrapped in their home-made flour tortillas.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

I asked the girls at Blue Bottle Coffee if they could make me a cappuccino Italian style, all milk foam with espresso poured on top, and they did. I was pleased.

Juices Served Here

Juices Served Here

So I went back again the following day with a friend, we had dinner and drinks at Cannibal, ice cream at Van Leeuwen. We walked into some of the shops. At IDV (Ilan Dei Venice), we learnt that all the outdoor furniture at Platform is made by them.

Mural by Jen Stark

Mural by Jen Stark

The Platform is in walking or bicycling distance from Reynier Village, but they also have a parking structure on Landmark Street, first 2 hours free. It’s in the building with the rainbow murals by artist Jen Stark, that also houses São Açaí, smoothies and bowls, and Cannibal, butcher shop and restaurant.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli