Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Weekly Reading: Top Wii Games

I just did the 2nd edition of my apparently now yearly roundup of top Wii games for families at Hitched magazine. I interviewed Jeff Gerstmann, EIC at GiantBomb.com, again, and he had some great games to add to my list, and helped give me some more insight into the ones I hadn’t had a chance to try out myself. I did just recently get outdoor adventure, and I’ve been playing it quite a bit. It’s a great little workout. I even got my parents to try it, though they wouldn’t let me take a photo of them trying to maneuver a mine cart together.

The Dark Knight in IMAX and Drinks at Comme Ça

Monday night, Evan and I went out to Universal CityWalk to a special IMAX screening of The Dark Knight and an interview with the sound designer, Richard King. It was great to see the movie again — when we saw it during the summer, it was at a theater in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and we were dealing with a major foot odor issue (ours) that was a bit distracting.

The movie was incredible in IMAX, on the gigantic screen, though I felt the ferry scene lacked all the suspense it had on the first viewing and also brought down the feeling of suspense and urgency during the concurrent scenes. I also didn’t find it nearly as scary, probably because I knew what was coming around each corner. I did get to appreciate the performances and the story more.

The interview afterward was interesting. We learned about some of the different sounds used in the movie and about putting together the sounds for some of the long scenes without music, like the truck chase in the underpass. We also learned about how Richard sometimes finds sounds by accident — like by running his shoe over the end of a treadmill — then starts playing around with the sound to build it into the film.

After the movie, we stopped by Comme Ça, a new restaurant and bar on Melrose, for a drink. Evan had been there before, but it was my first time at the beautiful place decorated with lots of dark wood bookcases, small quirky mirrors, and white chairs and benches. We took a seat at the bar, and looked through the drink specials. The place specializes in prohibition-era cocktails, and there’s a nice selection of alcohols from smaller distilleries, and a very inventive drink mix. I tried out a gin-based drink called The Last Word, and Evan was going to have a Sloe Gin Fizz, but since they were out of Sloe Gin, he had a variation on the drink made with Apple Jack Brandy.

Watching the bartender — really, mixologist — mix the drinks is a treat in itself. He pours out measurements from beaker-like flasks, hand-chips ice, and shakes everything up in a martini shaker before pouring it into a frosted glass. Our bartender, Eugene, also spent a lot of time talking to us about the different drinks on hand, and he even let us sample and compare a few different whiskeys, brandies and bourbons. We also learned about his favorite tequilas (4 Copas is high on his list) and gins (for peppery, he likes Miller’s, for fruity, Junipero).

Since we arrived toward the end of the night — and on a Monday — the bar and restaurant were pretty quiet. I’ve read that it can get pretty busy and noisy in Comme Ça, but for us it was quite a quiet and calm experience. And since the bartender wasn’t overwhelmed, we got a lot of individual attention and really got to see how our drinks were being made.

For round two, we let Eugene pick our drinks. Evan got an Old Fashioned, which was a bit too bourbon-heavy for me, but he liked it; I got one of Eugene’s specialties, a drink with lemon, basil, honey and whiskey. It was delicious. He said another bartender calls it the Melrose Smash, but he’s working on a new name.

We’ll definitely be back to Comme Ça soon. Next time we’ll have to try some of the food — it’s supposed to be delicious, though unfortunately it doesn’t look very veggie friendly.

Sorry I don’t have any photos to share — the movie was supposedly high security (it wasn’t) and they asked us to leave our phones/cameras/etc in the car. I left mine at home.

Madame Chocolat: The Most Delicious Interview

Most of the interviews I do for the articles I’m writing are over the phone, so it’s a real treat to get to meet the person I’m writing about face to face. Over the last few weeks, I did not one, but two interviews — for two publications, SpoiledinLA and Hitched magazine — with Hasty Torres at her Beverly Hills chocolate boutique Madame Chocolat. I also took plenty of pictures.

Now, hanging out in a chocolate shop — and getting to indulge in some of the sweets — is never something I’d turn down. I even have a tag devoted to chocolate on the blog. And Hasty’s shop didn’t disappoint. We chatted over lattes mixed with chocolate spoons, and I checked out the incredible holiday chocolates and got a tour of all the goodies in the store, from truffles and bonbons to chocolate covered cheerios. I must say, my favorite chocolate so far was the white chocolate citron, a pretty and creamy bonbon made with lime juice and decorated with delicate teal branches and leaves (second chocolates back on the right in the picture below). The caramel hearts were also delicious, as were the rich and enormous chocolate chip cookies. (OK, I promise to stop drooling now.)

I also learned that you can have a chocolate party at Madame Chocolat, for kids or adults, where you can make chocolates of your own. Ahem — anyone planning a party?

The SpoiledinLA reviews aren’t online yet, but the Hitched Candid 7 article where I talk to Hasty about her relationship with her husband, celebrity chef Jacques Torres is up now. The interview was fantastic, but of course I couldn’t use it all. Here’s my favorite outtake, about how Hasty and Jacques make their relationship work when they both have their own chocolate shops on opposite sides of the country — and how they hope to work together one day:

It works because of our love of chocolate and the love of what we do. It’s so helpful to have a partner who understands what you do and works in your industry. Jacques is still my mentor, and he’s still my chef. There are so many people who say they could never work with their spouse, but since that’s how we met, we really do well together. We’re like yin and yang in the kitchen—we can anticipate each other’s needs, and we know how to help each other out.

Check out the Hitched article to learn how Jacques proposed in the chocolate shop, what their favorite chocolates are, and how being on “The Girls Next Door” has brought in a flood of new requests for “body parts” chocolates.

Best Supper Ever: Battlecat Speaks!

BSELast year, I got a curious friend request from something called “Best Supper Ever” on MySpace. I initially thought it might be spam, but when I clicked on the link to investigate further, I was bombarded with, well, awesomeness. I also knew some of the group’s founding members, so that helped met start following their silly supper antics, too.

Since its early days, Best Supper Ever has had a mission — to rate and review LA restaurants in search of, well, the best supper ever. The group of 20something diners then post their reviews in an easy-to-digest, visually delightful little module, with clever commentary from nicknamed reviewers, a wallet-pain chart that makes me grin every time I see it, and photos that make me want to start a supper club of my own (or at least get invited along to a BSE feast).

The brainchild of Marissa Mukavetz, AKA Battlecat, she rounded up her rag-tag group of friends, put her degree in photography and graphic design to work, and started a side project which is gaining new fans by the day.

Since I’ve always wanted to hang with the cool kids, I asked Battlecat to do an interview so I could learn more about the mechanics of the BSE, how it got its look and how I could go out to dinner, too. I also learned that Battlecat likes talking about herself in the third person.

BSE in Paris
Me showing some BSE love at the Louvre

France: Where did you get the idea to start BSE?
Battlecat: Three woebegone friends were on a long hike in the ferocious Malibu wilderness. They were hungry… cold… and detrimentally bored with the same ol’ night-life scene in Los Angeles. So they came up with a mission to change the world as they knew it. At least as far as eating out goes.

How often do you go out for dinner?
Battlecat: BSE meals are every other week. The default day is Thursday, but if you’re hosting the dinner that week and you want to stay home and watch Lost, you can move the dinner to Wednesday or something.

How do you choose where to go for dinner?
Battlecat: Well, we go down the list of the 12 founding members of the BSE, and each gets to choose a restaurant. The very first BSE was technically La La’s Argentinian Grill on Melrose in West Hollywood. I think that was chosen ’cause it was walking-distance to the person’s house who picked it. Ha.

BSE Teamsters
The founding BSE teamsters

Who gets invited to dinner? Can anyone join the club?
Battlecat: The founding teamsters who are supposed to be the only ones who choose the restaurants, but we’re pretty lax about that rule and have electoral votes for outside people to host dinners, too. We also have weekly columns on various subjects that really anyone who wants to write can, like “Margarita Tuesdays” and the “Math Column.”

When you become a BSE teamster on our website, you are treated as one of our own — we send you comments, we reply to every single email we get, and we just slam you with adoration and reverence beyond your wildest nightmares. For example, if you regularly email the BSE and we run into you on the street, be forewarned that you’ll probably get screamed at in a fury of love, tackled, and go home in a new shirt made of BSE stickers.

How did you choose your nicknames?
Battlecat: Each founding member chose their names on their own. So I’m not really sure how Nipples or Garbage came about, but I know I thought Battlecat (He-Man’s devoted companion/mode of transportation) was a perfect match for me. Especially since I’m usually the designated driver. And I wear a suit of armor regularly.

What has been your favorite dinner so far?
Battlecat: OOoo… tough question. But I’d have to say Medieval Times was hands down the most fun I’ve had in the past 5 years of my life. Something about screaming and no napkins got me going. I’m all about the atmosphere.

BSE at Medieval Times
BSE goes to Medieval Times

Have there been any dinner disasters?
Battlecat: Oh man, there was a very early-on BSE that was at Havana’s, a Cuban restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The Citysearch review said that it had live music and dancers and looked like a rowdy good time. This is obviously why you should never use Citysearch: When we got there, we were one of the two parties in the whole place and it was in a shopping plaza. There was one server/bartender/hostess/cook taking care of us who served us the driest chicken on the planet — which took about an hour and a half to get. Then, the only other patron in the building had a STROKE! (I kid you not.) Following that, ambulances came, there were fireman, yada yada yada. It was hilariously awful.

Do waiters and other restaurant staff hate you?
Battlecat: One would think. But we are an inordinately cheerful group — I think our unceasing good moods spread through the restaurant when we’re there. BSE evenings frequently end in a sing-a-long with the staff. We have video if you need verification on that statement.

How many people are visiting your MySpace page?
Battlecat: We’re what you consider a “secret” club, so we’re very elite momentarily. Haha — we get around 1,000 hits a day, but we get new friend requests daily, and our numbers increase daily, too.

Who takes the photos and how do they get that awesome glowy effect?
Battlecat: Ha ha… well, Battlecat is the in-house BSE photographer. I actually have a degree in photography and graphic design from Kent State in Ohio (holla!), so that comes in handy when building the reviews. As for the “glowy” effect — I WILL NEVER REVEAL MY METHODS! But if you own a 2004 Cannon Elf SD110, you probably know my secrets far too well.

Who does the graphic design work on the site?
Battlecat: Battlecat, Battlecat, Battlecat! Who would’ve thought that what you learned in school could be FUN!? Not me.

BSE Pain Chart
The BSE pain chart

Why is BSE on MySpace as opposed to a blog or other type of site?
Battlecat: Myspace is super-easy to use. And I’m into that… because I’m lazy. And it’s just way easier to get readers cause it’s such an intense network. It’s nice that it’s interactive, too — people can post comments or pictures and everyone can see them. And we can post comments to people, too. WE WORK FOR THE PEOPLE! WE ARE THE PEOPLE! HASTA LA VISTA BOREDOM!

Do you think you could ever make any money off this idea?
Battlecat: Well, the original idea was to create an outlet for our friends to actually do something to entertain each other, as opposed to sitting on bar stools and starring at each other — not particularly to be lucrative. But if we could get our act together and start a real website outside of Myspace, we could probably make some advertising money. I really don’t know.

The BSE TV show has also been mulled around a bit. We’ll see. It’s hard because each of us in the BSE are just real people with 9-to-5 jobs, so there isn’t much extra time to work with. That’s also the charm of us, too. In the end, the concept of the BSE is pretty much golden, and it’s more fun than I’ve ever had in regards to a nightlife scene. So I’m pretty sure I’ll be a millionaire in about 2 months.

What’s the long-term plan for BSE? World domination?
Battlecat: Well, we’re in search of the BEST SUPPER EVER! Duh. I don’t know what we’ll do when we find it. I guess be on the search for a “better” supper.

Thanks, Garbage, for setting up this interview. Everyone else, don’t forget to go visit the BSE!