Surviving Runyon Canyon

I love hiking in Los Angeles. The coyote howls at sunset when the canyon temperature drops a refreshing 10 degrees, the ocean views and the thrill of knowing a rattlesnake could be sunning around the bend are but a few of the many perks. The mountains surrounding us are Mother Nature’s big “Screw you!” to the hideous strip mall sprawl that showcase our modern failures in architecture. One may think that hiking boots and a water bottle are adequate preparation for hiking in a hot, rugged canyon. Oh no, my friends. To survive Runyon Canyon, you need not only need style, but doggie style.


* While purebreds were once all the rage, once must find other ways to pretend they’re loaded. The new leash candy are mutts and rescues, as men have discovered it makes them look sensitive and gets them laid.

* The ultimate leash candy? Dogs with deformities! It’s all the rage. Try and score a 3-legged dog, one that’s missing an eye or has an extra digit in their paw.

* Any form of skin disease is NOT a hot deformity. Think underdog, not dirty dog.


* No stained clothing or torn clothing, unless crafted to expose bare midriff or toned arms.

* Matching clothes only - not throwaways that belong in the pajama drawer.

* All men, especially gay men, must take off their shirts if they have a four pack or higher, unless thwarted by excess back hair.

* If going for preppy chic, ensure the leash matches the outfit.

* If going for Playboy chic, not only do you cut your shirt for midriff exposure, but cut a plunging neckline to expose your expensive breasts. Extra credit for orange glow skin!

* If going for rocker chic, colored bandanas are best for your hair, and don’t forget the shades and too-tight jeans that are not at all appropriate for hiking.


* To fit in, one must speak obnoxiously loud when discussing any entertainment industry successes and celebrity run-ins. Must act blasé about celebrity encounters.

* To fit in, speak loudly about crazy and dysfunctional relationships And keep your voice up, it’s encouraged by all. Passing strangers eat up this form of entertainment.

* Act as if you are not out of breath while approaching the summit, as people can smell weakness.

* The most ridiculously priced bottled water will make you look cooler. Ditch the Arrowhead for Smart Water.

Enjoy your hike!


Better Than The Best of L.A. Weekly

LA Weekly's "Best of" issue was unleashed last weekend - an event I look forward to every year. I devour page after page with a hot cup of coffee and a pair of scissors. When I first moved here from the East Coast, I clung to the "Best of" issue to try and pick up the vibe of Los Angeles. The following two years I studied each entry and wrote down addresses, determined to make myself like this place. These days, I use it to explore and uncover. And now that I know this town, I can see where the entries are lacking.

For instance, the "Best View from Money" piece urges people to see the Los Angeles skyline from a spot in the swanky hills of La Canada. But the price of gas combined with an addiction to T.V. can hardly pull people off the couch these days. Make it worth the trip and stop at DISH on Foothill Boulevard in La Canada. Inside there are roaring fireplaces, hardwood floors and gorgeous vintage woodwork. When you settle into the dining room, look up at the old bones, painted white and looking like a Hamptons throwback. And the food - oh, the food. The juicy hangar steaks, crisp salads topped with goat cheese and fresh sliced fruit, the tangy apple chutney on sizzling pork chops and the warm chocolate bread pudding a la mode are to die for.
Everything is painstakingly homemade and the warmth exuding from the place stays with you as you drive downhill, back to the smoggy, congested flatlands.

Some Angelenos may fear dining more than six miles off the Sunset strip, as it may disrupt their carefully-crafted idea of cool. Allow me to draw some comparisons. On the strip, girls who have come to the sad realization that they'll never be smart enough to be rich on their own, (or not smart enough to realize they can), squeeze their wares into shiny tube tops and haunt the bars looking for people with money. For those who have seen the rolling green estates of La Canada, you would know that the place is moneyed, and not peppered with UCLA frat boys. The men at DISH go for Hefewiesen, not Heineken, and nobody would ever yell the formidable, "Whooh!"

On Sunset, people gain a slight sense of achievement looking down at the glittering lights of Los Angeles from the heights of the strip. Especially when gripping an overpriced cocktail after standing in line for an hour to get in. The view from La Canada? Higher. We're talking a few exits away from the Mt. Wilson Observatory, which makes Griffith Park look like a high school planetarium. Here's their link: http://www.dishbreakfastlunchanddinner.com/

I'm inspired now, and feel morally obligated to do my own "Best of" blogs when the event arises. In the meantime, put down the remote, get in your car and start exploring. Here's LA Weekly's link: http://www.laweekly.com/bestOf


California Cuisine

This "California cuisine" thing is really something. Despite various attempts to define it, the whole thing remains elusive. Every other cuisine I know can be defined by their spices and method of cooking, such as Indian cuisine, known for spicy curries with meat and breads cooked in a tandoori.

So I do research, and the definition is as pretentious as the restaurants who claim to serve it. Jeremiah Tower is credited for bringing the unique and "stacked" presentation to California. So...if I neatly stack pita bread, grape leaves and hummus into a cool-looking tower, it goes from Mediterranean to Californian? Wolfgang Puck is credited on Wikipedia's "California cuisine" page for opening Spago and being a celebrity chef, but brings nothing to the table as far as unique dishes. Perhaps some are hoping that the word "celebrity" will be the magic word to justify everything, as it does for trainers and stylists on makeover T.V. shows.

Then there's "fusion" - something California is known for. While Asian fusion is the most popular version, (putting soy sauce and sliced scallions in a ramekin where ketchup should be), one cannot borrow from another cuisine, force it into an American dish and claim it as it’s own.

Celebrity chefs and tiny towers of food don't make up for unique spices, marinades and cooking techniques. The truth is a lot less glamorous. California cuisine really entails taking a salad or sandwich (already perfected by another region) and shoving in a helping of alfalfa sprouts and avocado.