Must-Try Mexican Fare at Mercado
Upscale Mexican eatery cleverly combines classic and contemporary for food, décor, and drinks.
May 22, 2012
In a city known for its stellar Mexican restaurants, don’t let new addition Mercado go unnoticed. This sure-to-be-standout Santa Monica eatery steps up to the plate with a mix of family-inspired recipes, farm-fresh ingredients, creative cocktails, and industrial-chic décor.
Co-owners Jesse Gomez and Jose Acevedo (who is also Mercado's executive chef) conceived the menu as an ode to their Mexican roots, pairing traditional dishes with seasonal cuisine. Vegetables, plucked from the Santa Monica farmers market around the corner, serve well as starters and in salads like the ensalada de col y rucula, a delightful mix of kale, arugula, candied pumpkin seeds, pears, dried strawberries, and fried cotija pesto croutons tossed with a agave-lime vinaigrette. Beer-battered fish, crispy sweet shrimp, and tasty meats fill signature Mexican tacos, empanadas, enchiladas, and ceviche as both small and large plates. Sure to be a Mercado favorite, the carnitas bring together slow-cooked natural pork, roasted cauliflower, guacamole, chile salsa, and homemade tortillas.
For dessert, dig into Acevedo's award-winning flan. Drinks of note include an array of tequilas, California wines, and even a seasonal blood orange margarita, all served up at a spacious bar. 1416 Fourth St., Santa Monica, 310-526-7121
Summer Collaboration: Trina Turk & Banana Republic
California-born designer debuts playful Palm-Springs-inspired collection for summer.
May 22, 2012
Always a great find for preppy pieces, Banana Republic gets an added touch of glam in its upcoming collaboration with designer Trina Turk. Known for drawing inspiration from California and Los Angeles itself, Turk creates the new capsule collection to include wearable fashion for all sorts of summer activities.
Based on a "Palm Springs cocktails by the pool" look, the collection calls out colorful prints on everything from swimwear and towels to shorts and tunics. Essential summer accessories also pop up in the almost 60-piece collection—beach totes, sunglasses, enamel jewelry, flat sandals, and wide-brim hats. Start picking your favorites for the June 7 debut both online and in store ($34.50-$150). 10800 W. Pico Blvd., 310-441-5975
The 24 Hour Plays: Los Angeles Announces Cast
Second LA showing of popular series supported by Mont Blanc bills top talent.
May 21, 2012
Tracie Thoms, Ramon Rodriguez, and Diane Neal at the recent casting announcement for The 24 Hour Plays: Los Angeles.
The 24 Hour Plays performance is coming back to LA on Saturday, June 16, 8 PM, bringing with it a strong showing of talent. Also produced in New York, London, and Chicago, this popular one-night-only show gives its actors, writers, and directors 24 hours to conceive and execute six short plays. Those taking on the challenge at LA’s second-annual showing include Sasha Alexander, Jason Biggs, Brooklyn Decker, Ashley Greene, Ginnifer Goodwin, Zachary Levi, Diane Neal, Krysten Ritter, Jason Ritter, Ramon Rodriguez, Tracie Thoms, Wilmer Valderrama, and more.
The lineup was recently announced by Montblanc, a longtime supporter of The 24 Hour Plays and its dedication to the Urban Arts Partnership. Proceeds raised from this Broad Stage Santa Monica performance will benefit Urban Arts Partnership, a non-profit that develops arts-related programs in underserved public schools. Reserve seats now, as The 24 Hour Plays show usually sells out fast. Tickets at urbanarts.tix.com, $175-300; and exclusive-access packages available through citiprivatepass.com, $150-24,000. 11th St., Santa Monica, 310-434-3200
Photograph by Getty Images
Actor Antonio Banderas Branches Out With Winery
Acclaimed Hollywood name shares the story behind his Spain vineyard.
May 21, 2012
Antonio Banderas has lit up the screen as the love interest of Madonna, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and even Tom Hanks, but these days he’s spending as much time on wine as movies with his Anta Banderas Winery.
Banderas, whose ruggedly handsome looks hardly show his 51 years, was born in the Andalusia region of Spain and began his acting career in theater there. He received international recognition after appearing in the 1988 Oscar-nominated film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. From there it was off to Hollywood, where he filmed Mambo Kings in 1992 and began to learn English. But it was his Spanish roots that truly inspired his desire to make wine.
“Twenty two years ago I came to America,” said Banderas. “Wine became kind of a bridge that could take me [home]. In a bottle of wine there is something that’s there of the land that I love.”
While Banderas has ventured out to non-Hollywood projects previously (he has his own cologne brand), he is very passionate about his new winery. The project began in 2009 when he bought into a winery in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. “When I decided to make the wine, I immediately fell in love with the area,” Banderas said.
The place was originally called Anta Bodegas, with “AB” as a symbol, coincidentally Banderas’ initials. He decided to keep the first part, and the 235 hectares are now producing wines under the new name, Anta Banderas Winery.
“It’s not so different from making movies,” Banderas said. “When you make movies, you may not be an artist ever, or you may make up your mind to be an artist. You can create things.” Only three Anta Banderas Winery products are currently available in select US states like California: Anta a4, Anta a10, and Anta a16.
When asked which wine he likes best, Banderas replied, “My favorite is actually Anta Banderas a10. For me, it’s the best wine.” But he actually prefers white (a chardonnay is available at the winery) when it comes to one of his favorite Spanish dishes, paella, which he usually makes in the morning.
If you’d like to sample that white, you’re welcome to stop by if you’re in Spain. “We don’t have prepared tours, but we never close our doors to anybody," said Banderas. "If you go there, you see can the winery—the winery itself is very ecological. It’s very beautifully made, basically of wood and glass.”
It looks like these Anta Banderas wines are only the beginning. “We are learning, we are working, and in the future once we feel more secure with the product we have, we will be open to new markets and we will expand. I am not here just to put my image out there in the newspaper, I want to go further than that,” the actor said.
Banderas is as romantic off-screen about wine as he is on-screen toward his love interests. “What we try to do at the end has to do with the way we all feel about wine," said Banderas. "It’s a natural love. At the end of the day, it’s just something that you love. You have your glass of wine, a good book and the person that you love. That’s it.”
Eskandar's Second US Flagship Opens in West Hollywood
Anglo-Persian designer brings exquisite clothing, accessories, and more to brand-new boutique.
May 18, 2012
Eskandar’s new West Hollywood boutique is a British invasion worth welcoming. The U.K.-based luxury brand opened shop this week with a full line of women’s wear, jewelry, and accessories for spring/summer.
Joining Eskandar’s signature draped styles and simply structured clothing pieces, is a collection of home products carefully curated by the décor-savvy designer. Eskandar makes his mark throughout the space with a hand-selected array of for-sale vintage furniture, antique glassware, ceramics, and elegant throws. To celebrate the store’s opening, the designer himself will be on site today and tomorrow. 8816 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 310-246-9800
Ultimate Jewelry: Mixed Metal Choker by Deer
Two LA fashion forces join up for a wear-with-anything choker and new accessories line.
May 18, 2012
Everyday accessories are especially hard to find if you like to swap silver for gold pieces some days. Enter Deer’s mixed metal choker ($186), a versatile piece that could be layered with longer necklaces, or worn alone and accented with more basic silver and gold baubles.
The choker is a standout piece from a brand-new collaboration between ACB's Annie Costello Brown, and Des Kohan boutique owner, Desiree Kohan. Dubbed Deer, the 20-piece, limited-edition line of earthy and edgy accessories features multi-strand chains, beads, and shells. Referenced from ancient Egyptian jewelry and more recent vintage items, any of the pieces are perfect for summer. Available at Des Kohan and on deskohan.com, 671 Cloverdale Ave., LA, 323-857-0200
Photograph Courtesy Des Kohan
Fig & Olive Melrose Place Premieres Summer Menu
Bright and airy West Hollywood hotspot reveals new summer dishes.
May 17, 2012
Melon, prosciutto, and burrata salad makes a hearty and refreshing summer dish.
Beautifully envisioned by executive chef Pascal Lorange, the refreshed seasonal offerings at Melrose Place’s Fig & Olive appeal to both the eye and the palate. With an added 20 dishes, this bright and airy West Hollywood resto reimagines everything from starters to sorbets for summer.
Lunch items include a colorful salad comprised of farm fresh melon, prosciutto, and burrata; and pea and mint soup. A Mediterranean tasting dinner is a feast of fare that features grilled lobster tail on puff pastry, served with shaved baby zucchini, pesto, and bell pepper tapenade; grilled filet mignon, alongside potato galette and roasted honey thyme eggplant; and truffle risotto with black crumpet, cremini mushroom, and Parmesan, drizzled in white truffle oil.
For the final act, enjoy desserts like green apple sorbet with citrus and olive oil, or a selection of tart du jour in flavors from chocolate ganache and caramel, to balsamic fig mascarpone. In an homage to its French Riviera roots, Fig & Olive also expands on its signature starters with summer-inspired crostinis, cicchetti, and frittis. 8490 Melrose Pl., West Hollywood, 310-360-9100
Photography by Michael Gardner
Weekend Recommender: May 18-20
Catch one-night-only photography and ballet events, and walk for charity.
May 17, 2012
A perfect example of Nancy Berry's work, which centers around self-portrait and landscape.
Nancy Berry “For the Dance Of the Light” Exhibition
Friday, May 18, 10 AM-5 PM)
LA-based artist Nancy Berry debuts a one-day-only photography showcase at The Pacific Design Center. A whiz with camera formats and color-enhancing effects, the music exec-turned-photographer focuses her enchanting exhibition around self-portrait and landscape. 8687 Melrose Ave., Ste. B315 - 3rd Fl., West Hollywood, 310-657-0800
Los Angeles Ballet Presents NextWaveLA
Saturday, May 19, 7:30 PM
Renowned Southern California choreographers Kitty McNamee, Sonya Tayeh, Stacey Tookey, and Josie Walsh present their NextWaveLA show at the historic Alex Theatre for one night only. The contemporary/classic series then moves on for its final May performances at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage. Tickets $30-95.126 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, 818-243-2539
The California Music Festival and AIDS Walk
Sunday, May 20, 2 PM-9 PM
This year's event features a ‘70s-themed celebration complete with special tributes and star concert performances at The Greek Theater, a 3K walk in Griffith Park, and plenty of food and drink. The walk/festival benefits numerous HIV and AIDS charities, and big-names like Magic Johnson, who hosts the concert portion, will be in attendance. It’s not too late to register and start raising money for this important cause. takeaction.aidshealth.org
Photography by Nancy Berry
Q&A With: Restaurateur, Author Joe Bastianich
The MasterChef judge and famed restaurateur is now a published author.
May 16, 2012
Renowned restaurateur and vineyard owner Joe Bastianich has a lot to celebrate. His role as a judge on MasterChef, keeping up a healthy appearance after a big 2008 weight loss, and his obvious success in the restaurant business, especially with partner Mario Batali, are only a few of Bastianich’s accomplishments. He can now add author to his list of accolades, chronicling his upbringing in the newly-published Restaurant Man. Here, Bastiniach discusses his family's influence, the difference between LA and New York restaurant scenes, and his future plans.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your parents?
JOE BASTIANICH: I learned, from an emotional stance, the importance of the sense of family. I learned a work ethic from them: that no one gives you anything in this world, and [that] you have to go out and fight and work for what you want. To be proud of your heritage, to be proud and celebrate where you come from and who you are.
What would your mom cook for you when you were little?
JB: She still does cook for me! She makes crab risotto and roasted chicken and potatoes. And she makes orecchiette with broccoli broth and sausage. And she makes apple strudel.
What would you say is the hardest part of opening a restaurant?
JB: Everything. It’s a very difficult thing to do, and I think that the hardest part is trying to understand the complexity and magnitude of what it takes to open a great restaurant. I think people don’t really get it sometimes. It seems easy, but it’s not.
What do you think of the show that you judge, MasterChef?
JB: It’s the greatest food competition in the world. The process of tasting six thousand people’s food and bringing it down to one, the best home cook in America, is an amazing concept. It’s an amazing journey. The people are incredible, the food is incredible, the whole thing is amazing.
You have restaurants in both Los Angeles and New York. What is the difference between the dining scenes in each city?
JB: I think the restaurant experiences in each city represent or embody the complete environment of the city. For me, eating in an LA restaurant means great local produce, something from the sea, a warm night, a warm breeze or a sunny afternoon. The smell of flowering orange trees, all those things that are so very Los Angeles—when they come together in the dining experience, it’s magic.
I think in New York, it’s a night with traffic and black limousines all over the place, and a lit skyline under a haze of clouds with a slow drizzle, and people going off to the theater and art openings. And the sheer density and excitement and energy of the city, and when you enter a New York dining room it’s just this pop of pure rush with energy and magic. I think that restaurants in both cities can come to embody the energy and the aesthetic of the cities themselves.
What’s the next city you’re going to tackle?
JB: We’re opening up Eataly in Chicago. Hopefully, there may be a Mozza coming to San Diego. We just opened up Lupa in Hong Kong and we have our steakhouse, Carnevino, opening up in Hong Kong in August.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CASS BIRD
The Ultimate Summer Read: Crabgrass Crucible
Summer-appropriate book is perfect for LA residents, Earth advocates, or both.
May 16, 2012
It’s no secret that Southern California has a large population of environmentalists and eco-friendly residents who want to preserve its scenic setting. A new book by Christopher C. Sellers called Crabgrass Crucible: Suburban Nature & the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America explores where the love of the land all began, taking a specific look at LA and New York City.
Speaking to the idea that the environmental movement started with suburbanites, Sellers’ tome really reflects the sprawling suburb that is LA. The book is both informative and relaxing to read—perfect as you soak up a slice of California’s environment at the beach. University of North Carolina Press, June 18; Pre-order available at BarnesandNoble.com, $35.76
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.