Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And More Food

Last summer, my friends and I decided to take a cooking class through HipCooks (http://www.hipcooks.com/). We were fascinated by the fact that we'd learn to prepare a Spanish feast and we'd get to bring our own wine and drink it while we learned to cook!

We went over a few different recipes:
1. Squid Salad
2. Seafood Paella, Chicken Paella and Chorizo Paella
3. Red-wine Soaked Oranges with Natilla

Each time we finished a recipe, we all sat down together to eat. The recipes were quite easy to follow and the food was delicious! The instructor also emailed us the recipes, so we didn't have to bother taking notes during the class.

The only disappoinment was that due to the strict permits held by the establishment, there was a limit to the amount of wine we could drink during the class. I think that between 12 of us, we only had 4 bottles...that's about 2 glasses each, if that!

If you're interested in taking cooking classes, there are plenty of places to look into in the L.A. area, including HipCooks and Sur La Table. Here is a link from Gridskipper.com, which lists a few other options: http://gridskipper.com/62270/los-angeles-cooking-classes#more

If eating is more your thing, there are several culinary school restaurants where you can get a multiple course meal at an unbelievable price. I haven't tried any of these restaurants yet, but I found write-ups on http://www.chowhound.com/. Check out the restaurant's website to see what is on the menu and what the prices are.

SoCal Savings - My blog posting "Ordinary, but Either Free or Inexpensive" was quite popular... I assume that I received a good response because people are being very careful with their money during these tough economic times. The objective of this blog is not to inform you of free or inexpensive outings, but of "different" things to do in the area. Due to the popularity of the posting, however, I've decided to include a "SoCal Savings" blurb in my entries whenever I learn of a great offer.

This week's SoCal Savings is for Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona. If you're not familiar with Glen Ivy, it is a resort that offers mineral baths, a plethora of pools, a red clay mud bath, a spa and anything you need to help you relax, including alcohol. Admission during the week is $48 per person. Through February 26th, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, you can take advantage of 2 for 1 admission for $35! From February 26th through March 18th, the promotion is valid on only Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For more info, visit:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Food, Food, Food

I'm totally fascinated by food and I'm a sucker for gimmicky restaurants like Korean BBQ (see pictures), Brazilian Churrascarias and Japanese Shabu Shabu. Oh yes, and how could I forget The Melting Pot (http://www.meltingpot.com/). I'm not particularly keen on restaurant chains, but The Melting Pot is definitely an exception.

Then, there are gimmicky menus, let's see, JAR has Mozzarella Mondays (http://www.thejar.com/jar_menu_moz.html), Grace has Doughnut Shoppe Wednesdays (http://www.gracerestaurant.com/index.php/grace_test/articles/dougnut_shoppe_night/) and Campanile has Grilled Cheese Thursdays (http://www.campanilerestaurant.com/).

All very clever, but I came across progressive dining and found the concept to be fascinating. I haven't tried it, but it is definitely on my things to do list. The idea of progressive dining is to have a 3 course meal, sometimes more, across numerous restaurants, instead of just one. So, for example, appetizers are served at one restaurant, the main course is served at another and dessert is served somewhere else. The pros: you get to test out the food and the service at different establishments. The cons: you can't get too comfortable at any one place.

I did some research and found a company, Melting Pot Tours, that offers various progressive dining experiences in the Los Angeles area (http://www.meltingpottours.com/). If you look on http://www.goldstar.com/ sometimes they offer tickets at nearly half price for these tours. If you decide to sign up for goldstar, please use this link: http://www.goldstar.com/tr/nc/6112/908640/?p=f908640ff26&ref=sub908640&mar=news6112

I also came across an even more interesting one that includes water taxi transportation (yup, that's right, a water taxi!), but it is in Oxnard (Channel Island Harbor, to be exact). Be sure to check it out, Progressive Dining (http://www.progressivedining.com/progressivedining/index-1.html#Testimonials). I'll have to test this one out for myself sometime this summer. Sorry, not aware of any coupons/discounts for this tour.

On another note, I found out today that the Queen Mary in Long Beach is offering free admission to Southern California residents throughout the month of January. The admission includes a self-guided tour of the Queen Mary. All you need is a CA ID/Driver's License. Parking is only free for the first 30 minutes, then the prices are as follows: 31 minutes to 1 hour: $3.00; 1 hour to 12 hours: $12.00; 12 hours to 24 hours: $15.00. For more info, visit: http://www.queenmary.com/index.php?page=eventcalendar

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ordinary, But Either Free Or Inexpensive

In light of the economy and the number of people I know that are unemployed, I thought this week I'd write about free and inexpensive things to do, instead of "unusual" things to do. You'd be suprised at all the special offers!

LACMA - The Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art offers "Pay What You Wish" admission any day after 5pm; Free admission on the 2nd Tuesday of the month; and Free Holiday Mondays on various holidays throughout the year. For more info, visit: http://www.lacma.org/info/HoursDirections.aspx#free
MOCA - The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles offers free admission on Thursdays between 5pm and 8pm. This offer applies to MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Admission to the MOCA Pacific Design Center is always free. For more info, visit: http://www.moca.org/museum/visit_home.php

Getty Center & Getty Villa - If you've never been to the Getty, you're missing out. Both locations are absolutely gorgeous and FREE! Parking for either location is $10 per car. For more info, visit: http://www.getty.edu/visit/

The California Science Center - Admission to the permanent exhibition galleries is free, but they do accept donations. Right now they're featuring a DEA exhibit, which is pretty fascinating. For more info, visit: http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/GenInfo/PlanningYourVisit/Hours/Hours.php

Natural History Museum - Admission is free on the first Tuesday of each month. The pictures posted in this entry are for this museum. For more info, visit: http://www.nhm.org/information/

As far as parking is concerned for both the California Science Center and the Natural History Museum, you can park for free on Menlo Ave. between Exposition and King. Right in front of the Los Angeles Swim Stadium, there are several free 2 hour parking spots.

The Skirball Cultural Center - All exhibits are free on Thursdays. For more info, visit: http://www.skirball.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26

Huntington Library - Admission is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of every month with advanced tickets. Hours on Free Day are 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. For more info, visit: http://www.huntington.org/Information/hours.html

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens - Admission is free on the third Tuesday of the month (the tram is not available on free days). For more info, visit: http://www.arboretum.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=getFeature&catagory=about&FeatureID=dcc4890b-0952-11d6-a271-00d0b76949cb&PageNumber=1&CFID=1306186&CFTOKEN=35647931&StoryID=b9e905bc-1e8b-11d7-a27a-00d0b76949cb

Center Theater Group - The Ahmanson Theater, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas Theater make up the Center Theater Group. All 3 of them offer great shows and you can get tickets for as little as $20 through a program called Hot Tix. Apparently, the theater puts aside a small percentage of tickets for each show and sells them for $20 each. The catch is that if you order over the phone, they won't tell you where the seats are located, but if you go to the box office, they'll tell you. If you order over the phone, they'll also mail the tickets to you for free and will not charge you any lousy Ticketmaster fees. I've purchased a few of these Hot Tix seats and I've sat in the front row (on the end), in a box and in the front row, center of the balcony. Not bad, if you're on a tight budget...and aren't picky about your seats. For more info, visit: http://www.centertheatregroup.org/

I also recommend you check out http://www.goldstar.com/. They offer discount tickets to many shows, sporting events, etc in the Los Angeles area. They do have a service fee on each transaction, but its still lower than Ticketmasters' (can you tell I'm not a fan of those fees?). If you decide to sign up, please use this link: http://www.goldstar.com/tr/nc/6112/908640/?p=f908640ff26&ref=sub908640&mar=news6112

Last but not least, if you, like me, have no shame using coupons, you may want to consider getting your hands on an Entertainment '09 book http://www.entertainment.com/. The book offers some great deals (e.g. buy one get one half price or buy one get one free) for restaurants, museums, movie theaters, etc.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Purpose

If you're anything like me, you like to spend your free time doing things that are not just fun, but often a bit out of the ordinary. I'm not exactly amused by doing the same things over and over (although I do have my favorites). I'm actually quite bored by monotony. I'm constantly looking for new places to explore, new websites to shop on (I HATE the mall!), new books & magazines to read, new cuisines to try (I LOVE food!) and the list goes on and on and on.

The purpose of this blog is to share info on some of the fun (and sometimes out of the ordinary) things there are to do in SoCal. Some of the things you may have heard of and others you may not even be interested in knowing about, but rest assured that contrary to what some may say, there is plenty to do in Southern California!

For the most part, I rely on the internet, newspapers, magazines, TV and friends for places to write about, so if you have any feedback on any of the activities/tours/classes or would like to see a write up on something specific, please feel free to post a comment or drop me an email! My goal is to update this blog at least once a week, but we'll see how that goes. Enjoy!