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LACMA Presents 8 Rare Caravaggios

An exploration of Caravaggio and his legacy comes to California for the first time.

November 07, 2012

From November 11 through February 10, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will show “Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy,” an exhibition bringing together eight of Michelangelo Caravaggio’s most influential works for the first time in California. Caravaggio’s paintings were hallmarked by the artist’s stark realism and ability to capture emotion through plays with light and dark, all which revolutionized the art world at the time.

Along with the works by Caravaggio, the exhibit examines the painter’s influence on his successors, and includes a total of 48 works from artists throughout Europe including Georges de La Tour, Gerrit van Honthorst, Velázquez, and Simon Vouet. Taken as a whole, “Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy” demonstrates how these artists drew upon Caravaggio’s style and emotion well into the late 17th century.

Coinciding with the opening November 11 will be a presentation at 1 PM in the Bing Theater titled, “Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane.” Historian Andrew Graham-Dixon will lead attendees through the controversial life of the painter, providing the historical context for the exhibit. Come December 1, guests will be able to enjoy a special event celebrating the wine of Caravaggio’s Italy, which will include a tour of the exhibit paired with wines from the time period ($95). For $20 tickets to the exhibition, or for more information on the events above, go to lacma.org. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid City, 323-857-6000

—Alexandra Calamari


5 Spots in LA with Truffle Specials

Top LA dining destinations offering decadent truffle tastings.

November 06, 2012

SAAM offers a limited-time truffle tasting through November 17.

For the foodie in search of the ultimate luxury, the Italian truffle is unparalleled. Fortunately for us Angelenos, restaurants throughout the city are offering limited-time specials featuring these decadent tubers—but supplies are limited so be sure to make your reservations as soon as possible. Below, find five of our favorite spots to indulge in this seasonal specialty. 

Tasting November 7 and seasonal specials
West Hollywood’s Cecconi’s is kicking off truffle season with a special six-course tasting November 7. For $225 ($300 with wine pairings), guests will enjoy a scallop with parsnips and white truffles, and a cauliflower and white truffle flan as appetizer courses. Pastas include a hen agnolotti, and salt cod raviolini, followed by a rabbit served porchettato-style with a black truffle jus. For dessert, diners will enjoy a white chocolate and truffle honey panna cotta. If you miss the November 7 tasting, a la carte offerings will be available throughout the season, like white truffle scrambled eggs on toast with a side of prosecco, and “The One-Hundred Dollar Pizza” with quail egg, leeks, burrata, and shaved white truffles. 8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 310-432-2000

Saam at The Bazaar
Tastings Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, through November 17
The culinary powerhouses behind Saam, the tasting room at The Bazaar by Jose Andres, have joined forces with the Truffle Brothers Michael and Marco Pietroiacovo to orchestrate a limited-time only truffle tasting featuring the culinary gems the Truffle Brothers imported from Italy. Never-before-seen dishes like a pumpkin meringue sandwich featuring white truffles are paired with signature cocktails like the Down-To-Earth, featuring Mezcal Del Maguey, cynar, fresh lime, and orange on an agave-black truffle bed. The menu is only offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings through Saturday, November 17. The full tasting is $275 or $375 with wine pairings. Reservations are required. 465 S. La Cienega Blvd. Beverly Hills, 310-246-5555

Oliviero at the Avalon, Beverly Hills
Dishes available until November 30
For a meal so decadent, you have to order it 48 hours in advance, head to Oliviero at the Avalon Beverly Hills, where chef Mirko Paderno is whipping up dishes featuring truffles from the Lange and Montferrat regions of Piedmont. Avid truffle fans can enjoy a ravioli dish featuring egg yolk, ricotta cheese, and white truffle, or a 12 oz. Kobe beef burger with truffle cheese and fresh white truffles. A pizetta topped with buffalo mozzarella and two ounces of fresh grated truffles is also on offer. Due to their limited supply, these decadent dishes must be pre-paid and pre-ordered at least 48 hours in advance. For of-the-moment truffle cravings, Oliviero also offers truffled French fries or popcorn, and a spaghetti dish featuring sausage and black winter truffles. 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-277-5221

Dishes available through December 31
At Scott Conant’s Scarpetta, diners can enjoy a variety of dishes featuring truffles during the fall season. Starters include a play on sushi with tuna, marinated vegetables, and preserved truffles, as well as a farmer’s market salad with a truffle vinaigrette. Entrees featuring the tasty tubers include a porcini and taleggio raviolo topped with chestnuts and burgundy truffles, an imported turbot with truffle dust, and a Tajarin pasta with white truffles. If that’s not enough truffle goodness for you, you can add a shaving of burgundy truffles for $45, and white truffles for $100. 225 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-860-7970

Dishes available December 3-15
Each of Chaya’s locations will celebrate the extremely rare Perigord truffle in honor of their “truffle food fair” with unique dishes playing off Chaya’s signature Euro-Asian fusion. At Chaya Beverly Hills, look out for menu items like a handmade pheasant tortellini filled with slow-cooked pheasant and aged balsamic truffle vinaigrette, and a truffle pot de crème with truffle fleur de sel for dessert. Guests at Chaya downtown will enjoy hearty winter dishes like a red wine braised short rib with winter root vegetables and truffles, as well as ricotta and egg ravioli with truffle brown butter. The Venice location will offer decadent dishes from the sea, like a dungeness crab risotto with shaved black truffles and a shaved truffle Kurodai snapper sashimi. All locations will offer menu items a la carte and as five-course tasting menus ($149).  525 S. Flower St., Downtown LA, 213-236-9577

—Alexandra Calamari
Photography by Jill Paider


Waves for Water Fundraiser for Nepal

Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine hosts a fundraiser for Nepal drinking water November 14.

November 05, 2012


FROM LEFT: Waves for Water's Jon Rose and Anesh of the Nepalese Army.

Los Angeles humanitarians Jon and Jack Rose, founding members of Waves for Water, will host a fundraiser November 14 to support their upcoming project to bring safe drinking water to over 10,000 people in Nepal. The event, which will be hosted by Culver City’s Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine (108555 Venice Blvd., Culver City, 310-836-9696) will feature passed hors d’oeuvres, wine, and a raffle. Meanwhile Jack and Jon Rose will join career coach Daisy Swan, travel writer Natalie Compagno, restaurant owner Tara Gurung Black, and KCLA personality Sunny Chayes in a discussion about career choices that involve travel, entertainment, and making a difference.

At the event, guests will be encouraged to purchase water filters for $50 that will each provide 100 Nepalese with safe drinking water. The foundation will bring the filters to Nepal directly following the fundraiser, so donations will have an immediate impact. RSVPs are encouraged by emailing Anna Ferguson at anna@daisyswan.com or by calling 877-872-3929. For those who cannot attend, donations are accepted at wavesforwater.org/get-involved (please note as "For Nepal").

—Alexandra Calamari


The Grove to Launch Pop Carts

Upcoming pop-up fashion boutiques will showcase Los Angeles designers.

November 05, 2012

As part of its 10-year-anniversary celebration, The Grove is showcasing small Los Angeles brands with Pop Carts—a series of pop-up fashion boutiques launching November 15. Just in time for the holiday season, the launch will feature ban.do, Clare Vivier, and Heidi Merrick, whose shops will remain open until Valentine’s Day. Each pop cart will feature its own unique design, offering a carefully-curated selection of the brand’s best-selling items as well as exclusive limited-edition pieces designed specifically for The Grove.

The three Los Angeles designers each bring extremely unique design perspectives to The Grove, ranging from French-inspired minimalism, to California chic. Look out for bright, hyper-stylized clutches, headbands, and clips ($15-$350) from accessories brand ban.do, while Clare Vivier’s leather products ($55-$500) offer a more classic look. Vivier’s clutches and computer and phone accessories will be offered in an exclusive burgundy color for The Grove—the hot color of the season—and can be monogrammed upon request. Heidi Merrick’s designs draw inspiration from the color and look of the ocean, and feature patterned pillows, luxurious pajamas, and more ($39-$325). 189 The Grove Dr., West Hollywood, 323-900-8080

—Alexandra Calamari


What We’re Reading

Day of the dead auction, Houdini’s haunted grounds, and a Hitchcock biopic….

November 02, 2012

Sir Anthony Hopkins (RIGHT) plays Hitchcock in a new biopic.

Celebrate Day of the Dead with an enlightening auction at The MAK Center for Art and Architecture, showcasing unique lights by LA artists and architects. [KCRW]

On the subject of the dead, Houdini’s haunted grounds just went up for sale. [Curbed LA]

And what could be eerier than a new Hitchcock biopic starring Anthony Hopkins, which opened AFI fest this week? [LA Times]

Meanwhile, Hollywood’s power women open up about fashion trends to the Hollywood Reporter. [Hollywood Reporter]

Come January, Angelenos will get a taste of Miami Beach courtesy of over-the-top restaurateur Barton G, who will open a spot in West Hollywood. [Eater LA]

—Alexandra Calamari
photography by RDA/Getty Images/Hulton Archive


Dinner Plans: Mirabelle’s Makeover

New chef Drew Ison livens up the menu at the recently renovated WeHo favorite.

November 02, 2012

Sunset strip staple Mirabelle underwent renovations to liven up its décor back in May, and now they’re revamping the kitchen with a new menu by chef Drew Ison. Ison brings over ten years of California cooking to Mirabelle, after stints at Kristy’s Wood Oven in Malibu, and the Regan Presidential Library. Now he’s drawing inspiration from around the globe, presenting a unique lineup of dishes, sure to please Mirabelle regulars and new patrons alike. Highlights include pan-seared jumbo scallops with smoked beluga lentils; lamb sausage bolognese over rigatoni; and a kurobata pork chop, served alongside brown butter spatzel, red cabbage, and topped with a whole grain mustard pan sauce. Guests saving room for dessert will be glad to see Mirabelle’s signature chocolate souffle is still intact, but Ison has added a few sweet surprises as well.

Last May’s interior makeover by Thomas Schoos brought an Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired atmosphere to the classic West Hollywood establishment, a vibe that starts with the seating—oversized leather couches, ornate Victorian dining chairs, and even seating suspended from the ceiling—and ends with an amalgalm of tchotchkes like ornate candlesticks, taxidermy on the walls, and contemporary sculptures strewn about. The whimsical design scheme combined with Ison’s fresh new menu serve to create a more youthful, lively atmosphere for the 41-year-old establishment. Reservations are recommended. 8768 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-659-6022

—Alexandra Calamari


Prescription for Prohibition at Next Door Lounge

Popular Hollywood speakeasy introduces Sunday dinner-special series.

November 01, 2012

Next Door Lounge is getting in the spirit of the roaring ‘20s with their new “Prescription for Prohibition” Sundays, an event series featuring unique musical acts, artisan cocktails, and special food offerings. The series kicked off October 28, the day the Volstead Act became law, and will end December 5, National Repeal Day.

In the spirit of Prohibition, the guest list is extremely exclusive, but Next Door Lounge followers on Facebook and Twitter will have a leg up on how to get the passcode to enter. Once inside, assigned bottle service will be catered by sassy servers, or patrons can head to the bar to sample Next Door Lounge’s very own moonshine—an oak-aged corn whiskey made in collaboration with Hudson Whiskey. The expert bartenders then used the whiskey-soaked barrels to whip up aged Manhattans, blending Hudson baby bourbon, cynar, carpano antica, Benedictine, and wild flower bitters.

The special musical acts kicked off with Corey Robinson—Ray Charles’ son—and Andra Day, and will continue with special surprise performers throughout the series. Doors open at 6 PM and to reserve your space, call 323-465-5505 after visiting the bar’s Facebook or Twitter for more information. 1154 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood

—Alexandra Calamari
Photography by Carl Larsen


Weekend Recommender: November 1-4

Day of the Dead flamenco, a Breeder’s Cup food fair, and a French filmmaker’s rare visit.

November 01, 2012

Santa Anita Park gears up for The Breeder's Cup this weekend.

Donna Karan Trunk Show
Thursday, November 1, 10 AM-6 PM
Join a representative from Donna Karan New York at Saks Beverly Hills, for a special preview of the 2013 resort collection and personalized wardrobe suggestions. Appointments are recommended by calling 310-887-5330. 9634 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-275-4211

Dia De Los Muertos Flamenco Show
Thursday, November 1-2, 7:30-9 PM
For a Day of the Dead feast for your eyes and your stomach, head to El Cid to enjoy the special presentation of the “Cante jondo,” or sorrowful songs, performed by Almardiente flamenco. Chef BJ Munoz will also be preparing a special menu, including traditional dishes like mole poblana and cochinita pibil. $25 tickets for the show can be purchased online. 4212 W Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-668-0318

Taste LA at the Breeders Cup
Friday, November 2-3, 11 AM-4 PM
It’s not too late to get tickets to Los Angeles’ premier horseracing event, The Breeder’s Cup. To sweeten the deal even more, NBC4 is hosting a Taste of LA in the paddock fountain area at Santa Anita Park. Take a break from the races with dishes from top Los Angeles restaurants like the Gorbals and Mo-Chica available for purchase throughout the afternoon. Get Breeders Cup tickets here. 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, 877-628-3499

Rose Lowder at the Film Forum
Sunday, November 4, 7:30 PM
Film buffs interested in experimental techniques won’t want to miss this rare appearance by the influential French filmmaker Rose Lowder at the The Velaslavasay Panorama, presented by the Film Forum. Enjoy a series of her short films with a chance to meet the artist and take a tour of the Velaslavasay gardens. Purchase $6-10 tickets here. 1122 W. 24th St., West Adams

—Alexandra Calamari
Photography by Harry How/Getty Images


Chris Ojeda Talks Halloween Cocktails

Cecconi’s bar director whips up savory cocktails for their Halloween party.

October 31, 2012

Chris Ojeda is brewing up scary-good cocktails in honor of Halloween tonight.

Halloween may signify candy and costumes for kids, but at West Hollywood hot spot Cecconi’s, the celebration is of a more adult variety, pairing high-end chocolates with wine and a selection of their new fall cocktails. The restaurant has invited local chocolatier Jonathan Grahm of Compartes, for a chocolate-inspired soiree from 7-10 PM ($25 with reservation; $30 at the door), which will showcase the complex flavors of their fall cocktail menu.

Guests will be treated to a selection of Compartes’ exquisite truffles including flavors like pumpkin pecan pie, Mexican hot chocolate, and fleur de sel caramel, served alongside cocktails like the Fair & Warmer, a mixture of JM Rhum VSOP, pumpkin seed-infused vermouth, and house-made curacao. Also look out for the Hot Pumpkin Buttered Rum (see recipe below), which tastes exactly as decadent as it sounds. For a look at what spirits pair best with chocolate and tips on shaking up your own pumpkin cocktails at home, we turned to Chris Ojeda, creative bar director at Cecconi’s and sister property The SoHo House. 8764 Melrose Ave., 310-432-2000

What was the inspiration behind the drinks being served at Cecconi's Halloween Party?
CHRIS OJEDA: Fall is one of my favorite times of year, and I’m always rooting for cold weather so Angelenos can enjoy this whole other side of warm cocktails. The Hot Pumpkin Buttered Rum has this great silky body and that bit of saltiness that pairs well with the pumpkin. The Fair & Warmer is one of those classic cocktails that you don’t normally see on menus. It’s a great cocktail, but you need to mix the right flavor profiles together—not just any rum will do in this recipe. The roasted pumpkin seeds also give the dry Vermouth a very earthy and autumnal flavor that pairs well with some of the chocolates we’ll be serving.

When shaking up cocktails with mixers like pumpkin, what are some important factors to consider?
CO: I try to mimic flavors of pumpkin rather than using the ingredient itself. If you do decide to have actual pumpkin in a cocktail, go with a homemade syrup that uses a good quality pumpkin filling, then reduce it with sugar and water.

What spirits go best with chocolate?
CO: Aged Agricole rums, Madeira, any bourbons that carry a little vanilla essence go well. My favorite is a good salty Islay Scotch with dark chocolate—sweet and savory.

How can a cocktail satisfy a sweet tooth?
CO: When I get a craving for something sweet and one of our amazing pastry chefs isn’t around, using agave or honey in a cocktail usually does the trick. I’m a firm believer that people want well-balanced cocktails rather than really sweet drinks, but that subtle taste of agave nectar in a margarita can satisfy a craving.

Can you share a fall recipe with us?

Hot Pumpkin-Buttered Rum

2 ounces Appleton VX rum
1 barspoon (teaspoon) of maple pumpkin butter
3/4 ounce honey (diluted 3:1, with hot water)
Freshly grated nutmeg
Cinnamon stick

Combine rum and maple pumpkin butter. Top with hot honey water to steam ingredients until mixed. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.

—Alexandra Calamari


Baja International Film Festival Comes to Los Cabos

International filmmakers gather to kick off the Baja International Film Festival.

October 31, 2012

An image of the Vail Film Festival, founded by the same brothers behind the Baja International Film Festival.

Popular vacation destination Los Cabos, Mexico is playing host to the inaugural Baja International Film Festival on November 14-17, an event highlighting both Mexican and international filmmakers. The Festival, co-founded by Scott and Sean Cross, who also founded the Vail Film Festival, will consist of four days of programming, including competitive screenings of features, documentaries, and shorts accompanied by gala events, discussion panels, live music, and award ceremonies.

Pablo Larrain’s No, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, which received wide praise at Cannes, will compete against British thriller The Sky in Bloom, and the Paraguayan film 7 Cajas, among others, for the grand prize of $10,000 for best international narrative feature. Awards will also be given to best international documentary and short, as well as the best Mexican feature, documentary, and short. A series of showcase screenings complimentary to the public will also take place, including a showing of DreamWorks latest animated flick, Rise of the Guardians, directed by Peter Ramsay.

Come nighttime, guests of the festival will have no shortage of activities, including a concert at Puerto Los Cabos Marina November 16, by performers from LA’s own Hotel Café. Artists include three-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, the Grammy-winning Cary Brothers, and Holly Conlan among others. Just a quick flight from Los Angeles, the festival provides the perfect excuse to enjoy some cinematic culture in a luxurious environment. Hotel partners for the event include the 5-star One & Only Palmilla as well as AAA Four Diamond Resorts Zoëtry, Dreams, and Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, among many others. For detailed travel information or to purchase VIP passes to the festival, head to the official website: bajainternationalfilmfestival.com.

—Alexandra Calamari
Photography courtesy vailfilmfestival.com/media/The Vail Film Festival

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