Sunday, February 11, 2007

3 Square Meals: 3 Square Cafe + Bakery

I am always on the looking for a good bakery to add to my list of favorite pastry-purchasing spots around town.

(My incomplete but constantly growing list includes Massimo's Delectables in Culver City (buttery italian cookies and amazing inside-out apple cake), Amandine Patissiere (fluffy pain au chocolate and homemade blueberry cheescake on Wilshire/Bundy), Susina Bakery (glossy fruit tarts and triple berry cake in spot where Sugar Plum Bakery used to be), Los Feliz's Alcove Cafe & Bakery (gargantuan slices of banana cream pies and triple layer chocolate cakes), Le Pain Quotidien (dense belgium brownies...mmm), even Whole Food's bakery section with mini lemon tarts and just-baked buttery croissants...but I digress)

With the discovery of 3 Square Cafe + Bakery along Abbot Kinney, my favorite street in LA just got better. The side-by-side cafe/bakey double-spot is the newest offering from Hans Rockwagner. I've been eyeing the spot for weeks waiting for it to open. Currently, only the bakery side is open, the cafe side (which will be serving more substantial breakfast, lunch and dinner is due to open in a couple of weeks). I haven't visited his other spot, R Bakery in Mar Vista (read fer food's blog for more info), but I hear his newest bakery shares R Bakery's same sandwich menu and tasty, oversized baked goodies.

Located in a modern, loft-like building, 3 Square is minimalistic (look for either the 3 small colored squares painted on the glass door, or in the mornings, the line of pastry-enthusiasts milling about with their fresh-baked raspberry white-chocolate scones and Europe-imported Meinl coffee.)

Inside, a long glass counter tempts with its array of fruity muffins, savory scones, chocolate-covered cookies, lemon bars and fruit tarts. I am normally a sucker for anything sweet and was eyeing this powdered sugar dusted pastry overflowing with juicy raspberry's but since I'm equally enamored with anything with cheese as a main ingredient, I was also leaning toward the poppy-seed/cheddar pretzel twist (which are available at the Rockwagner stall at the Santa Monica farmer's market) and the cheddar/bacon scone. I ended up going with the scone ($3) and unfortunately scarfed down the entire hunk of cheesy/bacony goodness before I could take a photo of it for this blog.

A chalkboard lists lunchtime options and breakfast specials. For future reference, I noted both the black forest ham, swiss and caramelize onion paninis and brie and caramelized pears on fig bread (both $7.50) as two tasty choices for next time.

The long skinny spot doesn't have too much seating, there are a couple of tables and a long wooden counter to eat at, but it's not conducive to long girly chatting over lattes and strawberry-creme tarts, like Jin Patisserie across the road.

Nevermind, I was craving the cheesy bacon scone so much, I made a special detour on my morning drive to pick one up on my way to work. The to-go experience is probably the way to go for the bakery. Neither the bakery nor street parking was super packed at 8:45am so the breakfast pickup was quick and easy--and definitely something that can incorporated as part of my morning commute routine.

3 Square Cafe + Bakery
1211 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Daily Candy's Profile

Massimo's Delectables
13222 W. Washington Blvd

Susina Bakery
7122 Beverly Blvd/La Brea

Amandine Patissiere
12225 Wilshire Blvd

Le Pain Quotidien

Monday, January 29, 2007

Winstons: Some Score Free Drinks at the Bar, We Score Free Sex Toys

A couple weeks ago, Cira and I grabbed dinner at the new WeHo restaurant Sur--good food (our seafood-mango salad was laden with meaty chunks of lobster and crab and the seared scallop appetizer over crispy potato cakes was tasty), flamboyant d├ęcor (covered patio with all-white, Liberace-approved furnishings and chandeliers), and even more flamboyant clientele (we sat next to a table of seven…which included five diners and a chair with two Pekinese sitting on their own tufted pillow). Afterwards, we headed towards WeHo to check out Winston's, the newly opened bar from the same owners behind lowkey hangout, The Dime.

Located in the epicenter of the seedy-yet-safe stretch of Santa Monica Blvd, Winstons—which is right next to TomKat Theater and directly across from the Pleasure Chest—is a stylish, dimly-lit lounge drawing in the same laidback scenester crowd as The Dime. Exposed brick walls, dark leather banquettes lining the walls and a doorman low on attitude add a NYC-cool vibe.

We grab drinks at the bar and courtesy of one of the owners--who’s friends with Cira--we scored a primo corner booth perfect for surveying the scene. We were soon joined by one of the owners and their friends. Under the blur of vodka-tonics, conversation somehow lead to ownership of sex toys—specifically, my lack of ownership of said toys and how our new-found friends were going to rectify that situation before the end of the night.

Any sketchiness associated with leaving the bar and heading over to the Pleasure Chest with semi-strangers who wanted to buy us vibrators was over-ridden by the sheer awesome randomness of it that there was no way we could decline the offer.

We crossed the road to find the Pleasure Chest closed (they really should rethink staying open until 2am on weekends now that both Winstons and the equally trendy Bar Lubitsch down the block have opened…they’d make a killing on drunken sex toy buying.) Before the closed store could be a buzzkill, someone remembered there was another porn store down the block. Not as classy as our first sex store pit-stop—and definitely a touch more gay… could there be any more geometry-defying anal twist plugs for sale?—nevertheless, the store had all the basics we needed.

Since I was a newbie, I was advised to pick up The Rabbit ($46.99), a non-intimidating, girly-pink vibrator with pretty, rotating pearls and stimulating rabbit ears which is apparently, a must-have for any respectable vibrator collection. Since this was a low-rent sex shop, it wasn’t the original Rabbit from Japan, but The Jack Rabbit (equivalent to a generic Ralphs’ brand of the same thing).

Cira picked out the Pocket Rocket (also $46.99) for portable, on-the-go pleasure that could be carried around in your jeans pocket. In addition to our big purchases, our generous, pleasure-spreading friends also bought us a vibrating dick-ring each ($6.99) and the store owner threw in a complimentary sample of gross, strawberry-flavored lube.

Despite the fact that they bought us vibrators, our friends for the night were actually very pleasant and very non-skeevy. By now, after our post-midnight shopping, it was last call and time to head home. We thanked them and bid them a surprisingly non-awkward adieu before walking past the crowd filing out of Winstons towards our car with our purchases safely inside unmarked, black plastic bags.

606 N. Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood
7746 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
Bar Lubitsch
7702 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
Pleasure Chest
7733 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
Nameless Gayish Porn Shop: I don’t know what it’s called but it’s one block West of Winstons on the same side of Santa Monica Blvd.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

No Glove, No Love: Dress Up Against AIDS: Condom Couture

I've been a bit of a blogger-slacker as well as "doer-of-cheap-and-interesting-things" slacker for most of December.

However, new year, new fun and wallet friendly concerts and events, restaurants & bars, trips and freebies to discover in 2007.

Starting with the free, safe-sex advocating "Dress Up Against AIDS: Condom Couture by Adriana Bertini" exhibit at UCLA's Fowler Museum. This free exhibit mixes fashion with safe-fornicating to remind you to be prepared if you're gettin' some.

The exhibit opened December 1st and runs through March 11th. I recently stopped by the exhibit to check out. The art installation includes a bunch of sexy evening gowns, flirty hoop skirts and tops and demure suits which are artistic works of art in itself, but on closer inspection, are also fashioned entirely from rejected condoms which failed quality control tests. The beautifully vibrant, ornate and imaginative outfits could all have come straight out of a Project Runway challenge.

Definitely worth checking out. Bring a date (and a condom for later) and let the frisky fabric of the outfits plant ideas into his or her head.

UCLA Fowler Museum
December 1, 2006-March 11, 2007
UCLA campus, Westwood