beet and paneer salad
 If it weren't for the tabloids reporting on Hilary Swank dining here, I never would have known the place existed! I've driven by Mezze countless times, but never noticed the building. Perhaps it's because when on La Cienega, I suffer tunnel vision for Absolutely PhoBulous, to feed the beast which is my abusive Vietnamese craving.

Upon entering, rows of vertical glass jars sat open, like a rustic bulk food area in a farmer’s market. Cinnamon sticks and star anise sat in open jars, welcoming patrons to smell and touch the exotic spices that awaited them in their meals. 

chicken shawerma on house-baked bread and house-fried zatar chips
One could even watch the chefs plating food, stacking it into presentations that bordered on art pieces. But unlike sushi bars and pizza parlors, this staging area was closed off behind a silent glass wall. There was no interaction, and it felt an art instillation. It wasn’t cold, but professional, almost reverential.

liver & pork pate with mint chutney, homemade pickles and puffed pita
The Mezze chefs take great care not only in presentation, but in the quality of the food. My takeaway was that they let each spice speak for itself, having its own voice when being showcased in the dish. The pate showcased the coriander, the potato chips featured zatar, the shawerma had a masculine, char-broiled flavor and the house-made pickles popped with the tang of mustard seed. It was very clear that the display of spices in glass jars was not for d├ęcor, but a demonstration of the tools used by the artists. It is no wonder that celebrities, who could dine anywhere, choose to eat here.



Family is an important thing in Los Angeles. If you're friends with anyone famous, and I mean Dana Plato anyone, it's best to make them a Godparent. That way, even if you can't get their money, they'll still feel obligated to come to your parties, making everything a little more exciting. In fact, guilt will stop them from ever being able to get rid of you

Family has many other functions too. You can adopt a bunch of kids from third world countries to distract the world from the fact that you're an annoying, ex-junkie homewrecker and an adulterous douchelord who still thinks they're cute enough to get away with bad hygiene. You can whore out insecure daughters to attain personal wealth and fame in middle age.

One must also be careful with their Hollywood families as well. Jennifer Aniston's hideous mother wrote a tell-all about her daughter, shockingly. Marlon Brando was distant with his children, which led them to this and this.

Maybe that's why so many Angelenos flee the city when they deem it time to "raise a family."


When the scene of the crime makes you hungry...

I don't take murder lightly, but I can't deny being intrigued by Vitello's. Robert Blake decided to kill his wife Bonny after dinner there, plotting for it to be her last supper. How bad could the place be? He even  left the gun in the booth by accident, and ran back to retrieve it after they finished their meal.

Soon after, she was found dead in her car outside the restaurant. Mr. Blake had knocked on the door of one of my acquaintances, pleading for help. It would be the last of his performances.

Sordid history aside, the food at Vitello's was good. It wasn't excellent, as I'm wary of any restaurant that can't even make a good marinara. Marinara sauce is like a baked potato. With good, simple ingredients, it's hard to mess up. Even Buca Di Beppo makes a mean sauce with extra garlic, and they're a chain. I did appreciate the dark, cloistered East Coast feel, as if we were in an establishment set up by actual Italians a century ago. So many L.A. restaurants go for white minimalist coldness, so it's refreshing to see a crowded room in candlelight, the dark walls cluttered with art and photos. 

Not a place for food snobs, but great for homesick East Coasters and sordid history buffs.



What is with the signs at the San Diego Zoo?

What did the ravens ever do to deserve this?


Who writes this stuff?

Even the head hole is too big.

Hidden in the canyons

Scenes from my canyon hikes:

Alice in Wonderland-type tree
Dixie Canyon
hidden tea party, Beverly Hills

House of Dreams, or Dreamhouse?
waiting patiently
brushed copper garage catching the light of sunset
lovebirds, Blue Canyon
Coldwater Canyon
Nichols Canyon
the strangest flower of all