Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wurstküche Lunches

If I've been to the same restaurant in twice in a week then you know it's good!
Venice Beach's Wurstküche, pronounced verst-koo-shay and meaning "sausage kitchen" in German, is a new favorite around the office. It fits all the criteria of a Favorite - good food, good beer, cool atmosphere and well-priced. 
The "Purveyor[s] of Exotic Grilled Sausages" (as they call themselves) really know what they're doing - let's just go down the list...

#1 - Good Food. The main and most important thing on the menu - sausages (sausage sandwiches to be exact). They've got 20 different types on the menu! Everything from your favorite Bratwurst to the gourmet Sun Dried Tomato & Mozzarella or Kielbasa to the Exotic Alligator & Pork, Smoked Andouille Sausage. Oh, and did I mention they have 3 different types of vegetarian sausages?! That's right, they've got Vegetarian Italian, Mexican Chipotle and Smoked Apple Sage. If you're still hungry, they even have amazing Belgian (double-dipped) Fries with your choice of dipping sauces. Oh, and I have to mention - they have 5 different mustards!

#2 - Good Beer. Being a sausage place, their beer selection is concentrated on Belgian and German beers with only a handful of North American choices thrown in. Some of the favorites from our group - Spaten Optimator, La Chouffe and Duchesse De Bourgogne. Of course they've got the cider drinkers covered as well, with Aspall English Cider.

#3 - Cool Atmosphere. Just imagine, large open room with a bar on one side, a small elevated dining area in one corner (complete with built in turntables), an enclosed patio in another corner, giant industrial windows lining the front wall, with three extra long picnic style tables in the middle (each sitting over a dozen people) and several smaller tables all along the exposed brick walls. I could live in that room!

#4 - Well Priced. The sausages run from $5.75 for the Classics, $6.50 for the Gourmet and $7.50 for the Exotics. The fries are $3.50-$5.50 depending on the size, with the white truffle oil glaze costing an extra $2. The beers range from $2.50-$250. Okay okay, those are the extremes (PBR can and Duvel Special Methusalem respectively). Most of the beers are about $6 to $11 while the fancy sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages are $2-$5. 

Basically, it's just a fun place to hang out and talk with friends while enjoying a really good meal in a very social situation. I can only imagine how much more fun it gets at night! I can't wait to go back!

Images: 1, 2, 3 (Thank you to the original photographers! I was too busy scarfing down my ridiculously good food to take pictures - which is truly rare for me!)

Monday, November 28, 2011

More on Movies

Just to follow through on my recent movie posts, I'd like to tell you about what I have seen recently and enjoyed. 

Oh what a lovely film by Mike Mills! I thoroughly enjoyed Beginners for all it's lovely visuals, creative editing, quirky characters and touching story. I'm a huge, long-time fan of Ewan McGregor (Big Fish) and once again he does a tremendous job as graphic designer Oliver Fields. Oliver is rocked by the recent death of his father and his announcement just a few years prior that he was gay, despite being married to Oliver's mother for 44 years. As Oliver deals with the loss and his father's recent openness, he falls for a lovely French actress, Anna (Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds). As he navigates through coming to terms with his parents marriage, his father's cancer and homosexuality, he also tries to make deeper connections and learn of the different types of love in life. It's just a wonderful film! You must see it if you haven't!

I saw another wonderful film just the past weekend w/ my bf and friends - The Muppets! As a former puppeteer, I knew there was no way I would be disappointed by this film. It's the Muppets - how can you go wrong?! 

Brothers Gary (Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Walter have grown up watching the Muppets and finally get the chance to tour the studio when Gary decides to take his long-time girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams, Enchanted) to visit Los Angeles. When they learn the theater is threatened by closure by a greedy oil tycoon, they simply must reunite everyone in order to save it! The celebrity cameos and fun songs are well-worth watching it alone but as the plot implies, it's a great tribute to what the Muppets were and still are to adults and children around the world. Highly recommended to everyone!

Have you seen any great movies lately? Are they any coming out that you're particularly excited for? I'd love to hear about them. I always have my ears and eyes open for new suggestions!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Movie Buzz: Melancholia

So I hadn't heard about the film Melancholia until last week. I've always been a fan of it's star, Kirsten Dunst, possibly because she's the celebrity I most resemble (with the right haircut/color). Do you have a special place for any  stars just because someone said you look like that individual?
This is the latest from Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark) who wrote and directed the film. The pitch: "A beautiful movie about the end of the world." Most reviews claim it to be a beautiful film but they're mixed as to whether the film is successful in delivering romanticism or psychological disaster. 

The film centers on two sisters and as a result has two parts. The first centers on the gloomy Justine, played by Dunst, on the day of her wedding to Michael (Alexander SkarsgårdTrue Blood). A far cry from her usually upbeat roles, this one shows her subtlety and range. She embodies much of von Trier himself, a self proclaimed melancholiac, and even pulled from personal depressive experiences. As a strange planet hurls toward Earth, Justine finds herself getting stronger, possibly because she's always longing for an undefinable something and therefore has nothing to lose. 

The second half of the film focuses on Claire, the "normal" sister, unraveling as the end of world draws closer. Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams), actually has something to lose if the world ends - her son (Cameron Spurr). She and husband John (Kiefer Sutherland, 24), play host to the Justine's wedding at their waterfront castle and ultimately take in the sister after a disastrous reception.
I'm curious to see how the film actually plays out and might just be one of those films that you want to see on your own. Then again, I'll probably want to discuss it with someone... I'll cross my fingers that it piques the bf's curiousity too! Please, if you see it, let me know what you thought - I'd love to hear. I've included the trailer for those that I've already intrigued and/or confused. 

Other interesting reads on this film: the Interview on the the film's website plus this review. 

Movie Buzz: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman is another film that I'm really excited to see. This is the darker of the two Snow White movies coming out in 2012 (Mirror, Mirror being the other one). According to IMDb, the story is a twist on the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale - "the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen. " Acclaimed commercial director Rupert Sanders is bringing this story to life in his first feature film along with producers Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland) and Sam Mercer. You're probably familiar with Sanders' work without even realizing it, in commercial like Axe: The Fall and DirecTV Robots
I'm a little partial to this film because I saw an early test for the film that was quite visually intriguing. Then I received the opportunity to interview for a position working on the film in the UK. The concept artwork hanging in the production office was incredible! Unfortunately, I didn't get the job but I'm still as interested as ever in seeing the finished product. The first trailer came out early this month and has only fueled the excitement. 

I'll admit that I was very skeptical about the actors as they were announced (and re-announced in the case of the Huntman). I was thinking they'd probably choose an unknown to play Snow White but they picked Kristen Stewart instead. I know the girl is getting a lot of flack for the Twilight series but I can't hate her when she's only been cast in angsty teenage roles. However, I do think this film will help better determine her actual range. I was also questioning the choice of Charlize Theron for the Queen Ravenna. As soon the first images hit the web though, man did my mind change in a hurry! She might be my favorite by far. 

In fact, there's a good chance this might turn into my 2012 Halloween costume - I just love it! There will probably be several good costumes that come out of this movie. 
The film also stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor) as Eric the Huntsman and Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) as the Prince. Playing the dwarfs are Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Izzard, Ray Winstone and Eddie Marsan (as twins), Stephen Graham and a mysterious eighth dwarf. The Universal Pictures production is scheduled for a June 1st, 2012 theatrical release.
Additional images, mostly on set, can be found here, here and here
Also, there's a great story about Kristen Stewart punching Chris Hemsworth here

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movie Buzz: Sally Potter's Bomb

I am excited about several films right now... Let's start with the furthest one away - 
Bomb. I just read about this upcoming period film written & directed by Sally Potter and am really intrigued with the story and the cast.


The story centers on two 16-year-old girls living in early 1960s London, caught amid the political change of the Cold War and the social change of the sexual revolution. 13-year-old Elle Fanning (We Bought A Zoo, Super 8) has been cast to play Ginger, the brainy rebel wanting to save the world from nuclear annihilation. In actuality, her family is more likely to explode - Alessandro Nivola plays Ginger's father, a free-thinking, charismatic writer who enrages his daughter by having an affair with her best friend, Rosa, played by newcomer Alice Englert (Singularity).

I'm becoming a big Elle Fanning fan and can't wait to see what she does with a part like this. As Potter told Deadline, "Elle has a subtlety and range beyond her years. Her unaffected enthusiasm for work is a joy. She can move you to tears and then light up the room with her radiant smile, the perfect presence at the center of this volatile story." Doesn't she even look beyond her years in the pics above?
I haven't seen any of her work but am very curious about Alice Englert too. This 17-year-old (below) is the daughter of director Jane Campion and filmmaker Colin EnglertPotter noted that Alice "is a beautiful, intelligent young woman with the movies in her bones. Together, playing teenage rebels, they are sure to be a pair of firecrackers." Can't you just picture the two of them lighting up the screen together?!

The BFI and BBC Films production is scheduled to start shooting in February 2012 in and around London and the South Coast. Ms. Potter is joined in her effort by producers Christopher Sheppard and Andrew Litvin.

Information gathered from CinemaBlend, IMDb, and IndieWire. Top pic from here, Elle images from Interview & Marie Claire, Alice images from Vogue Italia & Harper's Bazaar

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cat Attacking New Photo Fad?

First there was Planking (imgs), then there was Owling (imgs) and Leisure Diving (more imgs)... Is Cat Attacking on the fad horizon?
Or should we call it Cat Jumping? Too generic? Hmmmm... Bed Jumping... with Cats? Yeah, that's too long. Please, send ideas - let's get this fad started!

Pictures from here, here and here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

City Tavern Dinner

The boyfriend and I had yet another great dinner last night - this time at City Tavern in Culver City. 
I had heard about their booth taps (and origins) from some source or another and thought it would be right up Brian's alley. We were nearby, hanging with some friends, and decided to change locations on a whim. The hostess, normally a server, was sharp and we didn't have to wait too long before we were seated. The "rustic chic" atmosphere was welcoming with exposed brick walls, reclaimed wood floors and worn wooden tables and chairs. 

The boys started off with Iron Fist's Renegade Blonde while the girls started off with Julian hard ciders. As with all of the Tavern's beers, the cider is California made. It was served in a tall, skinny glass (almost like an oversized champagne glass without the stem) that complimented the lightly carbonated, tart but not sweet, dry cider well. 

We started off with the appetizer special - Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Goat Cheese. Ah-mazing!
Next up was our entrees. I went with the Yellowtail special while the rest of the gang went with the Southern-style Grilled Cheese with pimento cheese. It was all delicious and perfectly portioned. I was so enamored with the tuna that I totally forgot to take a picture. It was lightly seared, served with a slightly spicy sauce and a cool cucumber and grape salad. I tried Brian's sandwich and it was really hard to admit that it was right up their with mine but got comfort food points. To top off the meal, Brian got a taster of the Craftsman Triple White Sage. It's described as a fruit/vegetable beer and tastes very similar to a Belgium White - quite interesting. 
Can't wait to come back - I hear they have fried green tomatoes too!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Love of Honey

Honey season is upon us Angelenos!
I found these awesome honeypots on Supermarket by Biodidactic DesignsI love that the designer is a beekeeper, eco-conscious (sustainably raised American maple dipper) and respects the natural geometric design of the hive. How can you decide between the two?!
I'm hoping to get a fresh local batch from my friend's honey harvest. If I'm lucky, and he remembers, I could even get the chance to harvest my own!! (Now, I'll admit this scares me a bit but I'd love the experience!)
These are also available here and here

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dinner at Oscar's

Brian and I stopped by a new local hot spot on Friday and had a wonderful date night...
By 6 pm, Oscar's Cerveteca was already busy so we hung out and grabbed drinks while we waited for a table. Brian ordered one of his favorites, Vitus, while I grabbed a cider new to my palatte, Crispin. It was served over ice and quite appropriate for a beautiful summer evening! The vibe of the restaurant was very chill, simplistic, modern with a touch of turn of the century elegance - smooth marble, square tube metal legs, dark wood, high top tables, a long picnic table, mason jars and simple white and wood dishes. 
As we were waiting and soaking in our new hip surroundings, we ordered the Fried Pickles appetizer. I'm a Southern girl so this is one of my favorites when I can find it. They seem to be popping up everywhere recently but these were distinctly different. Not only were they homemade spears but the batter was perfect, the taste unique, and they went well with (or without) the aioli on the side. 
Finally, the waitress whisked us to a wonderful table on the patio where we promptly ordered. 
I went for the Squash Blossom Quesadilla with Roasted Cactus... 
while Brian went for the Chicken & Cheese Empanadas. Both were incredibly delicious and I have to give it up to Oscar Hermosillo (of Venice Beach Wines next door as well) and his kitchen - simply amazing! The servings were just enough to be satisfying and well priced too. 
I highly recommend anyone visiting Venice or even LA make a stop at Oscar's. Wonderful food, great beer/cider/wine selection, with a fun local vibe. (Give me a call and I'll even join you!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Carmageddon and Crafts

Need something to do while avoiding the 405's upcoming Carmageddon? Why not surround yourself with crafts instead!? The Renegade Craft Fair could be the perfect escape! 

I've met Renegade crafters before through Etsy and other events so I'm super excited to go to my first Fair with so many in one place! Maybe I'll get my Christmas shopping done super early! It may still require driving (though I am hoping to stay with a friend that lives closer and bike) but at least its in the opposite direction of the what will probably be the worst day of driving in the history of Los Angeles. (My bf and friends are confident it'll still be horrendous though.) The event is free, delicious food trucks will be on site, music will be blasting and there will even be drinks to help you further enjoy the California sun! Some of the interesting crafts include hand-thrown ceramics, creative mobiles, 'historical' sci-fi cards and prints, and of course everything in between. So, who's in? Any Silverlakers wanna bike with me?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Word of the Day

You won't believe what today's Word of the Day is at
Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S.

  1. askew; awry.
  2. positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.

  3. diagonally; obliquely: We took a shortcut and walked catawampus across the field.
Also, cattywampus [kat-ee-wom-puhs, kat-uh-]

Catawampus arose in the United States around 1840, during a particular vogue in elaborate 
coinages. Cata-stems from cater-, a now-archaic root meaning "diagonal," while the source 
of -wampus is subject to debate.

Very circuitous, I must say- most sidelong and backhanded, cockeyed and 
skew-jawed, catawampus and wonky.
-- Candace A. Croft, Annalia's Simply Splendid Flight: From Another Side of Day

The only traditional touches are the catawampus walls and whichaway entrances dictated by 
Feng Shui, the art of placing things so as to ensure luck and not disturb spirits.
-- P. J. O'Rourke, Eat the rich

The word is available on their Obsolete American Slang flash cards. How funny!
Also one guy offered an alternative definition: "a fierce, imaginary animal, the sort of 
vicious critter that jumps you in the woods shortly before you're never seen again." Haha!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

To Buy or DIY: Mason Jar Lights

I love the simplicity but statement making ability of these Energy Preserved lights found on Supermarket. They're sooo simplistic I thought I could create my own DIY version. I have similar power cords for paper lanterns and Mason jars are available at any regular grocery store, right? Not quite so easy - I had trouble finding any colored lantern cords. Color power cords are easy enough to find but I don't trust my electrician skills - especially since I don't have any! I would also be concerned about the large light inside the jar and any heat it may give off.
With the creative juices already flowing, I began to think of other lighting solutions using the Mason jars - either hanging from something or just sitting on a table or bench. Then I remembered a fun project I had always wanted to try - creating LED Throwies

The instructions are simple (basically taping an LED(s) to a magnet and a battery), the materials are small and easily found, it can cost as little as $1 a light, and will decorate anything ferromagnetic. Readily available LED battery packs often have 9 or 12 lights and  seem to be a bit bulky for this project. 1 or 2 lights should give off enough lighting to create a fun mood but you can always add more Throwies if needed. The batteries should last about two weeks but with certain mods like on/off tabs or auto on/off, you could probably extend their life. (Don't forget to recycle the batteries when they're all used up. Please!) There's even a Snaggie mod that could be helpful.
Hopefully I'll be able to try this project soon and will repost images of my results!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Foreign Film Posters

I saw these fabulous posters in all their 5+ ft glory in a conference room this week. Being an art and film buff, I just couldn't get enough of them. They reminded me of George Lucas' extensive poster collection that lines the halls of ILM. I'm so fascinated with the beautiful 60s illustrations, especially the women's eyes and lashes, and compositions. If I had more time on my hands, I'd try to dust of my artistic skills and create some faux movie posters of my own. As a film student, I saw several films by these directors but never these in particular. I wonder if they're available on Netflix?
More information on the films can be found here, here and here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dreamy Eco Laptop

Industrial Designer Andrea Ponti has created an incredibly aesthetic and functional solar-powered laptop concept. The Luce ("light" in Italian) laptop was submitted to Fujitsu's 2011 design competition and boasts not one, but two photovoltaic panels! The first panel is located on the back of the OLED display while the second is underneath the transparent touch keyboard. The elegant clear polycarbonate casing allows sunlight to shine right through to continuously charge the battery while also making it ultra light (4 lbs). 

Although it's not market ready yet and still has some issues to be worked out (e.g. screen brightness while outside in the sun), the Luce upholds so many of my ideals and hopes that I truly hope a manufacturer sees the value in bringing this to reality. As Mr. Ponti points out, it is "not only an eco-solution for our environment, but a new way to think about laptop pc. No more cables, but mobile devices always connected to networks and powered by nature."

via inhabitat and techcrunch

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A New Kind of Moon Shoe

It's not often you would hear the words "outer space" and "DIY" together but that's the best way to describe these shoes...
“first ever flat-pack shoe, fit for outer space”
These beauties were created by United Nude for Spanish performance artist, Alicia Framis' Moon Life project. Asked to create a conceptual shoe suitable for space travel, Creative Director Rem D Koolhaas and team "thought the further you send or ship something, the more important the weight and size - so the idea of 'small and light' led us to the flat-pack idea." The carbon fiber shoes take about 10 minutes to construct, are made of about 20 pieces each, remain customizable and include instructions because UN doesn't "expect anybody to just genius the construction from out of the blue." The DIY shoes are only prototypes now but the purchasable version is in the works. I personally cannot wait!

More details and images at Vogueecouterre, core77, and Fashion Time Magazine.

Not feeling the heels? Try this DIY slipper from Unu Footwear instead!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Adorable Mobiles

I love these whimsical mobiles created by Laurie Poast in her Etsy shop ARTISANIEeurope. They're a little pricey AND I don't have kids but how adorable would this be above a crib?! I must admit I'd be a little weary of the small pieces but I just can't get over how cute they are. For something a little more adult friendly, she also has dreamy French country inspired necklaces and sculptures that any romantic would love. Its so inspiring that she is continuing her Norwegian American heritage through her art. (Her dad was a fiddle maker!) Oh I can't wait to work with my hands again!
Check out her blog here

Saturday, April 30, 2011

San Francisco Charms

Golden Gate Bridge from the Presidio ©Kat Elliott
I'm spending a lovely weekend (indoors unfortunately) in San Francisco this weekend. It's the 2011 SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival Main Jury! We've gathered some great folks from throughout the computer graphics, animation and visual effects industry and asked them to judge over 600 submissions - in one weekend! 

ILM's Yoda Fountain ©Kat Elliott
We've set up shop at the beautiful Industrial Light + Magic campus on the Presidio. Thanks to our wonderful hosts for a great tour of the facility!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Celebrating Spring... With Jewelry!

Spring is upon us! This lovely platinum bird necklace was made by my friend Kathryn Durfee who just launched her Etsy shop, Dandelion Designs. Her simple classic designs fit into a modern wardrobe with ease.

For those of you more partial to gold, these golden birds earrings are adorable! Not to mention I love that her dog made a cameo! I'm more partial to sterling silver so I love these pearl earrings - so simple, they're perfect for any occassion or season!
Good Luck with your shop Kathryn!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hot Chocolate Love Note

How pretty are these silver spoons from The Tasting Kitchen?! If consuming this wonderfully fine hot chocolate wasn't tempting enough, they press personalized (though short!) messages into the vintage spoons. What a wonderful Mother's Day gift... or marriage proposal! Best part? The chocolate is free of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydroginated oil, is practically gluten free and on its way to being vegan. Owners AmberLee and Andrea also have great party ideas and DIY touches available on the website. Now if only I could find those teacups too!
(Photo by Stephanie Faye for The Tasting Kitchen)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jenna Kator Handbags

Michigan designer Jenna Kator creates fabulous handbags using environmentally and animal friendly faux leather. Each handbag is named for the Michigan cities and women that inspire her designs. She also considers them to be a combination of East coast flare and West coast charisma. I couldn't agree more!  Her creations look like high priced leather bags but actually have an average retail price of $88. Now vegan/vegetarian fashionistas can indulge on soft, luxurious bags without any guilt. I'm also quite inspired with her philanthropy work with Hand Bags for Hope, an organization that helps domestically abused women regain their confidence using a simple item that almost no woman can live without.
(Via The Senses Five)