Last week, listening to one of favorite radio shows—KRCW‘s Press Play with Madeline Brand—we heard a piece on a Japanese men’s magazine named Popeye that was celebrating its 40th anniversary. The magazine’s debut issue hit the shelves in Japan in 1976 and it focused nearly all of its pages on California, most specifically Los Angeles.

As reporter Julie Makinen points out in her Press Play spot and her Los Angeles Times piece, Japan in the mid-70s was a far different place than it is now. Far from a trend-setting, hi-tech mecca, the country was still going through struggles and growing pains of all kinds; to most, Los Angeles looked from afar like a blissed-out, care-free paradise full of inexplicable-yet-fascinating cultural trends. As the Popeye‘s original editor—now 86-year-old Yoshihisa Kinameri—told Makinen, “In Los Angeles, people looked happy and cheerful. It was magical; it was like heaven.”

Kinameri sent four of his staffers to southern California to capture that magic and bring it back to Japan and, as Makinen points out, the now re-issued inaugural issue reads like a time capsule that evokes either a wistful nostalgia or kitsch depending on when you were born.

Amongst other topics, the first issue of Popeye—”Magazine for City Boys”—covers such subjects hang-gliding, skate-boarding (along with a “Who is the hottest?” spread), the idyllic and very un-Japanese at the time UCLA campus (complete with dorm room + dining hall visits and a full map of the campus), “Healthy Californians,” sports vans and how to airbrush them for maximum radness, and jogging, along with a detailed spread on how to jog and three spreads full of awesome running shoes of the time—according to Kinameri, “In Japan at the time, students had maybe two kinds of sneakers, and they were cheap and not stylish at all.”

The full first issue of Popeye was printed as it first appeared in 1976 (minus vintage ads being swapped out for a modern sponsor—smart) and is included in the current anniversary issue of Popeye, which takes a much less culture-shocked, very savvy look at Los Angeles and surrounding environs 40 years later, when we’ve both changed so much. And they are very on-point—not only do they feature some of our favorite spots for food in LA (Night + Market Song, Donut Friend, SQRL, Dune), they also feature some of our favorite people—shout-out to Clara from Clara Cakes and her tour of Atwater Village!

Below, some of our favorite moments in the 1976 reprint, followed by Clara, a road trip spread, and a nice illustrated map of Los Angeles in the 2016 anniversary issue.

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It’s hard to capture the feeling now, but then, it was just all so different. We had seen running in the Olympics, but seeing jogging in real life was completely strange.
Popeye's original editor to the LA Times

Last year, we stumbled across the sunny, California sounds of the band Tall Tales and the Silver Lining and immediately fell in love. With their hearts clearly rooted in folk-rock’s golden age but their heads in the here and now, their wistful-but-hopeful music painted the perfect backdrop to driving down the California coast in our new home state. We first wrote the band up briefly after discovering them as part of last March’s mixtape and then at year’s end when naming our favorite albums of 2016. So, needless to say, we were bummed to hear that the band was breaking up this spring, so soon after us first finding them.

We recently reached out to Tall Tales founder + frontman Trevor Beld Jimenez in hopes of finding out more about the band’s beginnings, influences, and ending and he kindly obliged.

One of Tall Tales’ more recent track “Burning Out” is below and you can scroll down to the end of the interview to see the official video from one of our favorite tracks from their full-length, “Something to Believe In.”

raven + crow: So, outta the gate, I’ve gotta ask about the name—Tall Tales and the Silver Lining. It’s such a unique name and one I’ve always been intrigued by in terms of the story behind it. How’d you come up with that? Where’s it from?

Trevor Beld Jimenez: Thanks, brother! Originally it was gonna be more of a solo endeavor, so I wanted a moniker cause I was too scared to use my name. Tall was a play on my height and Tales was a play on the songs. As the band started to develop live, and transitioned into more a real band feel with mainstays in the lineup, I thought it would be cool to have a back up band name, like the E Street Band or something of that nature. I’ve always liked the idea of silver linings.

Poetically logical. I like it. We sadly first heard about you all just last year, when the record label arm of Other Music—my favorite record store of all time (RIP)—signed you guys. How did a southern California band get connected with a New York City mainstay like that?

We came into contact with Josh from Other through Domino Publishing. He flew out to see us play in Los Angeles, and shortly after that we decided to put out a record together.

I know Other’s label is still around, but were you as sad as I was when you heard they were closing?

We played at the record store on an East Coast trip in 2015. Everybody there was super cool! Totally a bummer, but I know they’ve got great things ahead of them collectively and individually.

It’s pretty well-ducmented and definitely very talked about at this point, but how do you think the music scene—both in terms of record-buying and in terms of being in a band—has changed for better and worse in the past few years?

It’s changed in different ways, but in many ways has stayed the same.

When I first started playing music 17 years ago as a 16-year-old kid I can’t even remember how we booked shows. I feel like people would call you on the phone or maybe you would see them at a party and they would say “Hey do you want to play on this date?” Now it’s all done through email. Been that way for at least 10 years or so (I got internet for the first time in ’09). I’m a late bloomer, so I’m kinda just catching up in many ways.

Maybe it’s always been like this, but it also seems like pretty much anybody can start a band these days. All you need is a name and an account on all the social media platforms and you’re good to go. It’s easy to have a fling with music, but you can still spot the lifers out there. I don’t think that is necessarily a new concept, or a bad thing, it just seems to be the times right now.

It’s also pretty hard to sell records. I know that this is not new information. Definitely got to play live and tour to get those records out there!!

People can find it for free somewhere out there on the Internet. It’s a double edged sword for sure. As an artist you want people to hear your music and appreciate it, so sometimes you’re willing to not put a price on it. Music can heal and the world needs it right now, but it takes time, soul, energy and of course money to make. It’s always nice to feel like the feeling and effort between you and the audience is mutual.

All true. And likewise, having played and toured with a band pre-Internet/-email myself, it’s crazy to think back to how we did things back then and how shows across the country even happened.

How did Tall Tales start in the first place?

Tall Tales started in Ventura California around 2007. I played bass in this band for many years up there, and was writing songs as well for that band, but more behind the curtain. I wanted to step out a little bit more and felt like the time was right. I started the band as a kind of solo project with my wife Tania getting my back on the recordings and live sometimes, but mostly myself. Then it just became an official band. It was fun times.

We really loved your sound. Having recently moved here from New York purely for the good vibes and lack of terrible winters, I felt like you all really gave us a soundscape for the feeling of California, if that makes any sense. The band’s music really so expertly captured the expansiveness and sense of scale of California’s natural landscape—I feel like that was even reflected in some of the album artwork. Is that sound something you tried to actively cultivate or was it just natural in the music and the way you all presented the band’s work?

Thanks again! Appreciate that. I’d be lying if I said at certain stages during Tall Tales it was not a conscious effort to be part of our identity. I definitely grew up listening to a lot of the 70s “California sound” bands, and then as a young adult rediscovering it through bands like Beachwood Sparks and Little Wings. Those bands felt like home.

Oh, yeah, Brent seems to be really be keeping the Beachwood sound alive with his new project, GospelbeacH too.  Who were some other musical influences for you?

So many! Everyone from Burt Bacharach to Tom Petty to Joni Mitchell.

Man, really hear the Petty influence in a great way too. But now, sadly, Tall Tales is no more—can you talk about what brought about the end of the band?

Basically, my best explanation is bands break up. Over time, so many factors play into it that it’s even really hard to pinpoint one. Ultimately, we tried to end it on a high note and with love instead of dragging the horse through the mud. We wanted to set the horse free!!

We last caught you up at a show at El Rancho Inn in Ojai (pictured below), one of a string of shows you announced as your final before the band officially called it quits. It was such an amazing, beautiful setting for a show—did you all enjoy it?

Love that place!! Ojai is kind of like a third or fourth home to Tania and I. I used to teach music at a school up there and every day the drive from Ventura to Ojai was like driving through God’s country. Very beautiful!

TTSLFam

Yeah, my partner Katie + I totally love it there too, so much. That show also introduced us to Elisa Randazzo, who we really enjoyed. Do you all go way back?

Tania and I met Elisa in Big Sur at the Hipnic Festival about 6 years ago. We watched her set and were blown away. Afterwards we went up and said hi and she was talking to Neal Casal (who ended up eventually moving to Ventura and we would play shows and music together soon after). We all became friends from that day on. She and her family are some of our dearest friends.

And your final show was up at Hickey Fest, right? How was that?

The Hickey Fest show was really cool. We played at sunset. The crowd was really mellow. People were still showing up to the festival, but it was apropos. We went out the way we came in: In the woods, at sunset, amongst friends and family singing along.

Sounds like a fitting way to end things. So what are your plans now that Tall Tales is no more? Are they musical? Non-musical? Both?

Some of the folks are starting new rad projects and out playing shows already. Some are playing with the other bands/people they were already playing with, or they have joined other bands around the Los Angeles area. Tania and I are being parents, working, and enjoying this life. Exciting times for all!

Well thanks again for making the time to talk. I hope to hear from you again some time soon, man.

Peace and love always.

We’ll keep an eye out for new musical projects from Jimenez + co.; in the meantime, we’d recommend checking out Tall Tales’ back catalog via Other Music, iTunes, your local record store, or whatever you use to stream music.

Music can heal and the world needs it right now, but it takes time, soul, energy, and of course money to make. It's always nice to feel like the feeling and effort between you and the audience is mutual.
Trevor Beld Jimenez on the ever-changing economy of music.

We’re happy to bring you the August 2016 edition of our monthly mixtape series and, with it, a significant change in form.

Up to this point, we’ve always made use of SoundCloud to post our mixes. We’re longtime users and fans of the online audio platform and, for some things, remain so to this day. It’s always been a great way for independent musicians to get their music out there in front of a huge audience in an easy manner and we’ve discovered countless bands with it. A little while back, SoundCloud started dropping ads in-between songs when streaming which, while annoying, I totally get. They remain a relatively small company, based in Germany with only about 200 employees from what I understand and those employees need to get paid.

Back at the end of March though, Soundcloud debuted their Soundcloud Pro service, a pay streaming service seemingly created in an effort to compete with Spotify, Apple Music, and the like. And, you know, continue to pay their employees. Part of that fee vs. free bifurcation meant that some songs—usually more popular ones—were only partially available to the free SoundCloud users as 30 second “previews,” many long after having been posted by the artists themselves, much to most artists’ surprise and with none of the profits for this pay service going to the artists. You can read various articles and reddit posts that go into more detail on the subject, but suffice to say that SoundCloud went from something that was great for everyone to…well, the opposite.

Again, we get it—it’s a business; businesses need to have employees; employees need to be paid; businesses need to make money so they can give some of that money to employees. But, with those changes that restricted access to songs for both us and all other listeners and the questionable-at-best relationship to artists,  who’ve not-so-arguably fueled the popularity of SoundCloud, we decided to step away from using the platform for our regular mixtapes. Plus, we’ve had a few minor but consistent gripes with this service not quite matching the needs of what we want to do (for one, if a song hasn’t been posted by an artist, we can’t share it and, for another, songs that are taken down after we post a mix obviously disappear from the mix forever, meaning many of our old 15-song playlists have far fewer than 15 songs these days).

So we’re giving something new a try this month—Mixcloud, a crowd-sourced streaming service used largely by podcasters, DJs, and Barack Obama. We first took note of the service when David Byrne sent a recent mix through using it. We figure, if it’s good enough for David Byrne, it’s good enough for us. We’re only testing the waters here, but we’re hoping this will really open things up for us, allowing us to post anything we have an audio file for (including any pre-release promos we’re given the go-ahead to share) and ideally giving the mixes a bit more longevity.

As a listener, your experience is going to differ depending on your country and their respective copyright laws. In the US, for instance, we can’t rewind because rewinding is somehow unfair, I guess, to artists? Point being, let us know what you think—if you like it, drop us a line; if you don’t like it, also drop us a line; if there’s something that you think would work even better for us—you guessed it—drop us a line.

In the meantime, enjoy this new batch of new sounds from France’s Faker featuring Rae Morris (a lovely track that we’ve wanted to bring you for months but remains unavailable in the US via SoundCloud); Brooklyn-by-way-of-Ecuador’s Maria Usbeck, who gives us the beautifully blissful song “Moai Y Yo”; the ESG-esque, radio-friendly project from Troop Beverly Hill’s own Jenny Lewis, Au Revoir Simone‘s Erika Forster, and the Like‘s Tennessee Thomas  Nice as Fuck; Blood Orange who gives us an addictive new track featuring Empress Of; new (to us) Brooklyn band Bella Mare; Flock of Dimes, the solo project from Wye Oak‘s Jenn Wasner, who gives us a poppy number reminiscent of Everything But the Girl at its height; Brooklyn’s Sidney Royel Selby III (AKA Desiigner) who totally loves Pokémon Go; Los Angeles harpist Risa Rubin; DC electro R+B trio SHAED; longtime favorite Icelandic artist Sin Fang (who interviewed a few years back), who returns with a bizarrely beautiful new track featuring Sigur RósJónsi; Melbourne’s Kllo; Júníus Meyvant (another Icelandic import—you can tell by all the accents); a bedroom recording project from Brooklyn’s Oliver Kalb (AKA Bellows), who’s part of the creative collective The Epoch (which you can read more about in our November interview with Eskimeaux); Oxford’s newemo trio TTNG (FKA This Town Needs Guns), who gives us some of today’s most intricate, hyper-melodic guitar work; and ending with a tranquil track from Sweden’s modestly named The Amazing.

Enjoy.

She has sang since she was a little girl, and plays the folk harp (along with the keyboard) despite its utter lack of popularity.
Risa Rubin from her band camp page

One of our favorite vegan restaurants in Los Angeles right now is Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine in Venice. We don’t usually make it that far west very often, but, when we do, we end up there 80% of the time (the other 20% of the time belongs to Gjelina, who does amazing things with vegetables). The restaurant opened up not too long ago after Kenney shuttered his old nearby Santa Monica outpost M.A.K.E, which was equally impressive and raw, which is saying a lot in our book (you can see 2014 write-up of M.A.K.E. here on the journal).

A little while back, PF+W announced that they’d be doing an eleven day pop-up of Matthew Kenney’s Asian-inspired Belfast, Maine culinary incubator project, Arata. Our friend and Director of Culinary Operations, Scott Winegard, had been hard at work at the Maine project, so we were somewhat aware of what they were doing. As they put it: “Arata, which is Japanese for fresh and new, offers plant-based ramen noodles, steamed buns, small plates, desserts inspired by Far East flavors, and an original cocktail and organic wine program.” All of that’s right up our alley, so, despite the truism-ism of east-siders never traveling west and west-siders never coming east, we’d been meaning to buck the trend and come by since the July 28th opening.

Alas, packed schedules and snarling traffic delayed our westward venturing up until the very last night of Arata’s Venice residency, this past Sunday. But we finally made it over, and, man, are we glad we did.

Winegard and company have taken traditional Japanese and pan-Asian dishes and transformed them using bright, vibrant, ultra-fresh local farmers produce and a shit-ton of creativity. The result’s almost as satisfying to adoringly behold as it is to eat. Another aspect of this menu that Scott pointed out to us when we were there—this is one of the first times a Matthew Kenney restaurant has employed soy, in this case in the form of fresh tofu + tempeh from a Bay Area organic soy farm.

The starters were our favorites—two sets of soft, fluffy buns (or bao), one filled with smoked king oyster mushrooms, cashew hoisin, scallion, and cucumber, the other with grilled tofu, mustard miso, pickled chile, and napa cabbage. Then we got kimchi pancakes with sesame-chile sauce and some really fucking great crispy fried maitaki (sometimes known as hen-of-the-woods mushrooms) with a sweet soy dipping sauce.

The noodle dishes and bowls were pretty great too though, with the ramens employing a lighter, thinner broth to showcase and highlight the vegetables used in the soups. We ordered Chile Ramen—smoked tofu, charred chiles, and red pepper purée—and the Spicy Udon—a broth-less noodle dish that actually used flat rice noodles rather than rounded wheat udon noodles and was far from spicy but really good nonetheless, tossed with a sichuan tempeh, radish slices, and a creamy cashew sauce that struck us as almost linguine-esque. We got a good look at (but didn’t eat) the Arata Ramen too, which was chock-full of pulled mushrooms, bak chop, dulse seaweed, and accented by a corn purée.

Sadly, as mentioned above, the short-lived pop-up has now left the west coast, but who knows—maybe they’ll seek a repeat performance given the response. Or maybe we’ll make it to Belfast, Maine some time?
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Arata, which is Japanese for fresh and new, offers plant-based ramen noodles, steamed buns, small plates, desserts inspired by Far East flavors, and an original cocktail and organic wine program.

Something significant for us happened this week.

More accurately, something significant didn’t happen for us this week—after nearly a year-and-a-half of continuous, uninterrupted week-daily posting to our studio’s web journal, we made the conscious decision to break from that daily schedule.

The initial move to daily posting came in February of 2014 and coincided with a massive overhaul of our studio’s web site wherein we pulled our journal into the fabric of the site in an effort to merge two established online personas. Before that, via Google’s Blogger, we’d started the blog that became this journal (formerly and separately branded as Kindness of Ravens) way back in 2008. Those four or five years, we ran it much more as a personal, more casual portal for our creative output when Blogging was more at its height, thus the separation from our professional persona. We also only posted every now and then, not on any sort of schedule. The move to daily posts in 2014 was an experiment to see how it affected our output—sticking to a scheduling and folding the writing and coverage more into raven + crow as a professional design studio, we wanted to see how it would change and hopefully improve what we did and how we did it.

Taking this more measured approach to the journal definitely affected things in a positive aspect—we feel the writing refined and, more importantly, the focus on what we wrote about, why, and how grew more sharpened. We reigned in our focus to coverage of design, art, music, culture, and the vegan food scene and, as a result, felt more motivated and engaged both with our subjects and our audience. What’s more, making this move gave us a kind of excuse to reach out and open up communication with groups and individuals in and outside of our field, which, likewise, opened up our lives professionally and socially. Very much like that picture of a salad in early 2013 that very much led to both longterm clients and professional partnerships, we can draw direct lines from work we’ve done on these pages and outreach behind the writing to real-world relationships we’ve developed. Which is clearly awesome.

Now, after stepping back and seeing the results of this deliberate shift, we’re making yet another move for greater focus by not holding ourselves to a daily schedule. It was a successful experiment and one we’re glad we embarked upon, but we feel we can both further curate the content that appears here by posting less and, honestly, devote more time to other, non-online things in the real world, be them professional, personal, or something in-between.

Below, an outtake from our 2014 shoot for the new site + about page where we look way too much like your new favorite band.

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We feel we can both further curate the content that appears here by posting less and, honestly, devote more time to other, non-online things in the real world.

We’re in the midst of both peak pepper season and peak tomato season here in southern California and it really shows on our weekly visits to the Hollywood Farmers Market. They’re so plentiful and so beautifully enticing, it’s been a war of the wills every Sunday not to walk away with armfuls of each.

For the peppers, we’ve gotten really into homemade hot sauces (more on those later); and for the tomatoes, you name it—heirloom tomato + cucumber salad in olive oil, fresh tomato sauces, roasting on the grill, eating them whole + raw. One farmer—a new one on the southern-most side of the market whose name I have yet to take note of—offers up more varieties of cherry tomatoes than I thought possible, all of which are sweet and fresh and irresistible.

This past Sunday, I came away with more than my fair share of these cherry tomatoes and was hit with a sudden craving for fresh pasta lasagna. What we ended up with was a simplified, deconstructed take on the traditional mainstay that was truly craveable. What’s more, it was really pretty easy to make and nice in terms of not having a giant tray of left-over lasagna a week after the initial cooking.

We’ve been trending towards writing up less strict, measured-out recipes of late on these pages and more just walking readers through the general concept of a dish and leaving the particulars to taste and individual creativity—this is no exception.

Not including the pot I used to flash-boil the pasta, I actually did this as a single-pan dish. Everything was farmers’ market sourced with the exception of the flour and tempeh (both of which actually would be options at our market, now that I think about it).

For the fresh pasta, first off, I assure you, it may seem daunting, but it’s really very easy to make and is so, so good. Many modern recipes don’t even incorporate semolina and instead just use fine quality white flour (we like King Arthur). The Kitchen has a good recipe that walks readers through it all pretty thoroughly; the only caveat for fellow vegans would be to bring in the ‘flax egg’ to sub in for the chicken eggs, detailed on this previous post. So, in the case of this recipe, we halved it for a recipe for two (and even then, ended up with about twice as much pasta as we needed), so it was 1.5 flax egg (1.5 TBSP ground flax + 4.5 TBSP warm water, chilled). Following that pasta recipe, you can make that ahead of time and set aside for 30+ minutes at room temperature and even fridge if you want to do it way ahead of time.

Once that was done, I sautéd half a sliced sweet onion in olive oil on medium-high heat in my small cast iron skillet, letting it brown and caramelize only for a few minutes before adding half a block of tempeh, sliced thinly and then crumbled up by hand. I browned that and then added a little salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and fennel seed before lowering the heat a bit and carefully adding about a cup of homemade vegetable broth. Then I let that reduce and thicken and set aside, scraping as much out of the pan as possible.

While that was going, I blended up a homemade cashew cheese. It’s kind of different every time, really, and you can read a little more (and get an actual recipe via a chef friend) on a previous post, but I’d say the general keys are soaking the raw cashews the night before when possible (for maximum creaminess), having a really good blender (especially if you don’t soak the night before), using some nutritional yeast and a decent amount of salt, and, if possible, getting a little cheese-like funk in there via some brine, ideally some that’s homemade and, thus, a little more subtle (I like using homemade Swiss chard stem brine).

While that was blending and after I’d scraped out the skillet, I halved my cherry tomatoes—kinda the more, in terms of quantity and variety, the better—and peeled and sliced five or so cloves of garlic, adding it with a generous amount of olive oil to the skillet, and cooking under the broiler, watching carefully to make sure tomatoes are cooking to the point of bursting but not overly blackening. I then scraped that out into an empty dish and set aside.

Now back to the pasta—we don’t have a pasta maker; I like to do it by hand. So, in my case, I took the ball of dough and cut it in half and then rolled it out on a long cutting board with plenty of additional flour to prevent sticking. In this case, I made one big, long noodle—maybe 1.5′ x 6″. Then I cut that in half length-wise so I ended up with two long, rough-hewn noodles. I then took my first noodle and placed it in boiling water for all of one minute, until it started floating at the top of the water and looking more cooked than…not cooked. I gently removed the noodle from the water, placing one end—about 1/5th of the length—in that same skillet with a little olive oil in the pan’s bottom and gently laid the remainder of the noodle on an adjacent cutting board (see the photo to the right). Then I repeated for the second noodle.

Then it was a simple matter of adding alternating layers of fillers—tempeh mixture + cashew cheese + tomatoes—and folding over the length of the noodle; filling, fold; filling fold, until you’ve run out of noodle. So like an accordion noodle pasta—one sheet, folded over and over again. With most of the layers, I wouldn’t do all three fillers for the sake of stability, but you do you. One tip—end by topping with first cheese and then the tomatoes, then carefully roast under the broiler until the cheese has browned well. Then top with some cut fresh basil.

Enjoy! And get to those tomatoes while they’re good, California!

vegan-lasagna_4406

With this unrelenting heat of late, we needed a little relief this past weekend. What better solution than a visit to the newly opened, vegan-friendly soft serve joint in Silver Lake, Magpie’s Softserve?

We keep hearing about this place from friends and have been meaning to check it out for far too long. They boast inventive flavors (Thai Iced Tea? Strawberry Cheesecake? Peanut Butter Pretzel?), work from a chef-inspired, from-scratch recipe for the soft serve, and always have at least two vegan soft serves on tap and at the ready.

Past non-dairy flavors have included such scrumptious contenders as Chai Coconut, Dark Chocolate Mint, and Blood Orange Creamsicle, but they were featuring a coconut-y Almond Joy flavor and the popular mainstay, the Corn Almond, which we both opted for. And it’s certainly earned its popularity—it had a rich sweetness to it and you could actually see the tiny specs of corn in the soft serve.

Katie topped hers with candied pecans whereas I opted for the excellent maple coconut flakes (which are mellow and not too coconut-y) and the vegan fudge sauce—heaven in a cone!

With an oft-rotating menu of flavors and rare reviews of their other vegan offerings, we’re sure to be back to be back for another visit soon…especially since the merciless sun seems to be on a mission to melt Los Angeles.

Magpie’s is located at 2660 Griffith Park Boulevard in Silver Lake, just off of Hyperion, down from that Trader Joe’s with the terrible parking lot and across the street from that Gelson’s that now has a bar inside…for my fellow grocery store aficionados.

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We wanted to expand the flavors of typical soft serve ice cream from the traditional vanilla and chocolate by creating flavors of soft serve that bring us back to our childhood, flavors that inspired us to become chefs.
Magpie's Softserve

Here’s hoping this weekend will be a safer one with no more wildfires in southern or central California…and while we’re wishing, let’s make it a miraculously, unexpectedly rainy one.

Shot from our neighborhood as the smoke from the Sand fire swept over Los Angeles this past weekend. Thoughts and best possible wishes to those fighting and dealing directly with both that fire and the Soberness fire near beautiful, magical Big Sur.

sand-fire-california_4262

At the start of this month, we ventured out to try a newly opened Burmese restaurant on Sunset in Silver Lake—Daw Yee Myanmar, an import from the San Gabriel Valley touted by Eater LA as “one of SGV’s best Burmese restaurants.”

We’d never had true Burmese cuisine, but there was a joint that opened up in DC right after we moved away from that fine city years back and we’d always been curious. Myanmar’s geography means that it borrows from Chinese, Indian, and Thai cooking + cultures, so how could some combination of all of those cuisines not rule?

We reached out to the cafe via Facebook to see how vegan-friendly they might be and they got back to us right away, explaining that many items were vegan as were and more could easily be made vegan.

When we visited (and as of writing, seemingly), the cafe was still fine-tuning the permanent menu, calling it a soft opening still, so we’re not clear on what may or may not be long-term dishes, but most of what we got seems pretty mainstay.

A must are the Garlic Noodles (pictured above), which are easily made vegan and feature wheat noodles tossed in garlic oil with chickpea ‘tofu,’ which seems to be polenta-like (soy-free) tofu rods. If you’re into spice (and additional awesomeness), ask for their housemade chili sauce, which is superb and goes very well with the noodles.

Then the Tea Leaf Salad, which is like nothing we’ve had before and highly craveable (and vegan as-is). It features truly distinctive and defining fermented tea leaves, shredded cabbage, steamed corn, diced tomatoes, crunchy fried lentils, fried butter bean, fried garlic, roasted peanuts, and toasted sesame. The taste and texture of this dish make it another we’d highly recommend getting.

The Burmese Vegetable Curry is good and vegan as-is, but basically a fairly tame, well-spiced stew—nothing too spicy—with okra, potatoes, lentils, daikon, and curry leaves. And the chickpea ‘tofu’ + Burmese samosas filled with onions and masala potatoes are totally solid openers if  you’re looking for them.

Daw Yee—at 2831 Sunset in Silver Lake—is open 5-11PM Monday through Friday, closed Tuesdays, open 11AM-11PM Saturday, and 11AM-10PM Sunday. And, most importantly, they have cute neon paper animal heads on the wall. As Eater points out, no liquor license, but next door at Same Same street thai (also vegan-friendly), they’ve got a solid beer + wine list.

Daw Yee Myanmar facade photo via Eater.

daw-yee_2286 daw-yee-silverlake_2295 daw-yee-silver-lake_2289 daw-yee_2305 maynmar

We’re admittedly late to the Japanese metal idol scene, so—embarrassing as it may be—we must confess, we’d never heard of the J-pop-metal mashup BABYMETAL until this month. Which is 100% our loss.

The Japanese group—led by 17-to-18-year-old Suzuka Nakamoto (“Su-metal”), Yui Mizuno (“Yuimetal”), and Moa Kikuchi (“Moametal”) and backed by the ghostly Kami band— began back in 2010 and kind of sounds exactly as you might expect; which is to say, SOUL-MURDERINGLY-AWESOME-MOTHER-FUCKER-kawaii✌️peace sign✌️

See below, the official video for their song “KARATE”, off of this April’s METAL RESISTANCE.

Also, can someone get these young women a new keyboard with a working caps lock, please?

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