Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I have been to the chocolate factory.

I am Charlie--metaphorically speaking of course. And I got to enter a really cool chocolate

Yesterday, I was cleaning out our general office wide e-mail box and I saw this press release. It was from a company called Chat, Chew & Chocolate. Don't ask about the name. It's some group that does all these girls-pamper-yourselves events like spa days. They had a paragraph about how this Phoenix bakery called Let Them Eat Cake still had spots open for a session of cake decorating classes that started tonight. Sitting in on a class at a Michael's arts & crafts store was one thing. But to do it in a real bakery was quite another. So, I decided to heck with the cost. I e-mailed them and had my first lesson this evening.

I had never been to this bakery before ( It has a pretty sweet set-up. One side is where all the cakes are. There's a space next door they dubbed Cupcake's Corner Cafe. It's decorated in a lot of pinks and reds, very inviting. When I got there, the teacher/owner, Barbara, took me back to the kitchen and I was like "You have no idea. I feel like I'm in Disneyland." And then she said "Guess what? You're the only one so you get a private lesson," which was fine with me. I thought it was nice of her to stay just for one person.

She made me practice piping with at least five different tips. I tried to make roses, seashells, stems, stars and beads. I of course definitely need to practice. Barbara said she's better at writing and drawing with icing than with a pen. What was also great is she was really personable. While I practiced, we chatted and I said I like making cakes but cupcakes are even better.

At the end of class, she told me to go pick out a cupcake (tee-hee). After some ruminating, I settled on a Boston Cream one. It was really yummy--vanilla pound cake with cream inside topped with bavarian cream and then dipped in a chocolate ganache. She took the cupcake back to the kitchen, pulled a stool out for me to sit on. I got to sit and eat it while flipping through a photo album of some of their cakes/cupcakes while she did all the cleaning up. I then told her she was just like Willy Wonka. I felt like a little kid sitting at an aunt's kitchen table. I probably looked like one when she came back from putting something away and glimpsed me licking the wrapper. What? I couldn't let any of the ganache go to waste! OK, yeah, that was sort of embarrassing. Courtesy cupcake aside, I'm looking forward to the next class.

In other news, last week, my boss, Ed, pulled me into the office. I was a little nervous at first. No matter what, it always,always feels like the principal is dragging me in. He spoke with the bureau chief and they discussed how there isn't much entertainment coverage based out of Arizona. He decided I should be the one to try to make that my beat because I've already done several features and I wrote pretty well. How funny is that? Ever since things didn't work out at my Entertainment Weekly internship in 2002, I never thought I'd get to do anything entertainment-related at a full-time job. It's just so hard to break into that. When I got here, I thought I'd just be helping with breaking news, writing obits and short news stories about fires, shootings or other calamities. But when I think about, yeah, I have done quite a few features. I guess I am destined to do that sort of writing, not so much Lois-Lane type stories. I'm cool with that. Ed wants me to build a list of celebs who are either from Arizona (Michelle Branch, Jordin Sparks, Alice Cooper) or who have homes here now (Mike Tyson, oh gosh, I can't think of anymore). He said maybe try every few weeks to do a story for a national audience. It doesn't have to be just about entertainment. It can be just anything you'd see in a paper's living section -- some kind of trend or pop culture thing. Man, I really want to take advantage of this opportunity. Oh, it's going to be really hard to decide when to leave Arizona.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Only in LA

What a cutie canine. His name is Lafite (pronounced La feet). He's a poodle.

So, I spent a mahvelous weekend in Los Angeles. Felt like a two-day birthday fest simply because of the company of close friends. Something sorely lacking in Phoenix. Anyway, on Sunday, I went with some old Daily Bruin cronies to lunch in Studio City at Vitello's. If it sounds familiar, it's the restaurant where Robert Blake was dining with his wife before she was shot. We were not in the booth where he allegedly forgot his gun. BTW, the food was pretty good. I had the Chicken alla Garry Marshall. However, Garry might be upset they misspelled his name.

After lunch, the four of us moved on to this coffee house down the street called Aroma. Great atmosphere and very popular. They have two patios and a little bookstore/stationery store area. Luckily the brunch/lunch crowd died down and we were able to grab a table. Well, the party of four next to us had Lafite. I hadn't noticed him lying next to my feet. Then I guess all four of them needed to go use the restroom or browse. All the ladies got up and asked the one guy who was going to watch him. The guy just turned to me and asked. Of course, I was like "Sure!" and ready to grab his leash. He was gone for about 10 minutes. For a second, I was like "He is coming back, right??" Anyway, I showed the guy the above picture when he arrived back. He said it was good and that Lafite is used to taking pictures. His owner is a photographer and Lafite has been on TV. Apparently he's made appearances on that cable show called "The Dog Whisperer." Never heard of it. But "only in LA" would you watch a pet that's been on TV. Sigh...

Other highlights from the weekend.

*My friend Jessica treated me to a performance at the Ahmanson Theater of "Jersey Boys." The show is the story of the rise and break-up of Frankie Valli and the other Four Seasons. You get to hear the actors croon hits like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man." It was awesome and the show won the Tony last year. If you haven't seen it, I strongly urge you to (David, if you're reading this, you'd really like it! ;) ). I think it's also playing in San Francisco this summer.

*Cupcakes! It surprised me how many cupcake places there are in LA. I hit one called Dainties. Excellent. Excellent. The cupcakes are made with either Devil's food or vanilla. But the icing comes in all different flavors. And they put the icing inside like a hostess cupcake. It's just heaven in a pastry. I got raspberry chocolate, vanilla bean, tiramisu and mango. The lady behind the counter must've really loved how much I enthused on the cupcakes because she threw in a caramel one. And being LA, this place also caters to a lot of movie and TV sets i.e. "Two and a Half Men," "The Tyra Banks Show" and apparently Avril Lavigne will only buy cupcakes from there. Check out Dainties. Honestly, show me beautiful cupcakes and I'll fold like Japanese origami.

*Jessica and our friend/old roomie Sunanda and her husband Rich -- we all went to this bar/lounge called Nikki's in Venice Beach. Great happy hour appetizers. Not talking peanuts and nachos but quesadillas, ahi tuna burgers and sweet potato fries. Anyway, after, us girls waited outside for Rich. A customer came out to introduce himself. Big, pudgy black guy with short dreadlocks and wore a dirty blue T-shirt and black pants. His name was Malibu. He tried to convince us to come out for fireworks on the 4th at Venice. Promised he'd be there with platinum hair on. When he took off his hat, a piece of bar napkin wrapped around something fell off his head. Must've been a joint as he quickly stooped down to pick it up: "Can't lose that!"

Only in L.A.