Monday, June 01, 2009

Photos from WeHo

I took a trip into West Hollywood today. I was pleasantly surprised by some things, unpleasantly surprised by a few others. Among the unpleasant shocks was the closing of A Different Light, a longtime LGBT bookstore that had news, books, movies and bumper stickers. The key word is "had" - right now there's nothing but a "For Lease" sign in the window. There's still one in San Fran and, perhaps, New York. Another unpleasant surprise - okay, it was not a surprise, as I should have seen this coming - was the traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. It seems almost like the most congested street in Los Angeles County. But you do get a good cross section of the variety of cultures in WeHo, including Guatemalan, Mexican and Armenian.

There was a lot of good (and okay) stuff I found. The best was in the food category. First I came across the small Champagne French Bakery & Café, which had lots of pastries and sandwiches. I got a large meringue "cookie" ($1.29). I ate this one as I walked searching for lunch, noticing all the No on Prop 8 and Defend Marriage Equality signs in the windows of businesses everywhere.

The cookie

Oddly enough for someone who likes exploring the eating options around town, I usually stick very close to the familiar in West Hollywood. I vowed to explore a bit more today. I almost hit one Japanese place that had a very promising-sounding appetizer of jalapeño pepper stuffed with spicy tuna. But the big green "B" from the LA County Board of Health (as in A, B, C, D or F) deterred me.

After considering a big, juicy burger in the heart of Gym Bunny Country, I eventually came upon Bossa Nova, a Brazilian restaurant near the intersection of Robertson and Santa Monica Blvd (there are four total in the LA area). In this charming little restaurant I had one of my first tastes of Brazilian cuisine. There were a lot of things on the menu that didn't strike me as particularly Brazilian, such as the many pasta dishes and the Cuban sandwich, though I suppose it's not difficult to find these dishes in Brazil at all. but I went for the more authentically Brazilian food. Along with the iced tea, I started with a coxinha ($4) as an appetizer.

The coxinha - outside...

The coxinha is a croquette of chicken and Brazilian cheese, fried and shaped to look like a chicken leg (though it really just looks like a big tear drop). The inside was creamy, and not what I usually go for, but I guess I don't eat a lot of croquettes.

...and inside

It was pretty flavorful, despite the weird creaminess of the croquette (again, a failing of all croquettes).

I enjoyed the main course much better, the traditional chicken dish ($8): flattened, coated in Brazilian spices and grilled, and served with rice, beans, fresh salsa and fried plantains.

The chicken

The sides were tasty, though the chicken did steal the meal. It was juicy in most places (only dry in one or two), and very flavorful in its tangy mix of spices. I wish I could place the spices that were on the chicken, but I can't. The final price was about $13. I don't know if they forgot to charge me for the iced tea or if it was just complementary with the lunch special.

Before leaving, I took a nice, long walk around WeHo, stopping to look around in the French Market, really just a big restaurant with some store fronts on the side. I also stopped at a new storefront near the Bossa Nova called Millions of Milkshakes. They are to milkshakes what The Fractured Prune is to donuts or Cold Stone Creamery is to ice cream. It features unique milkshake concoctions, many named after celebrities (Miley Cyrus, for example). I got a plain and very average small chocolate milkshake ($4). True, it wasn't the fanciest shake, but if they only do so-so on such a typical milkshake, what will their fancier ones come out like? It wasn't bad, though I just hope the other 999,999 milkshakes are better.

Other photos -

I have no idea what this sign says. I just know it's an Armenian market on Santa Monica Blvd, in Little Armenia outside of WeHo.

A big chair needs a big ass.

Just another day opening up another yogurt shop

Boy, Suzanne Somers must get bored behind that glass all day.

One of many options I considered for lunch was Rage. Jim and I ate here a few years ago. I got a very good tomato-basil soup. There was nobody there, so I left.

All I can say is: it looks, um, cocky...

I also drove up into the Hills. No - the real Hills. Why the hell anyone would want to live in this labyrinthine tangle of difficult-to-manage uphill-downhill streets is beyond me (apart from the obvious status it gains you).

This is a monument at the corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica. It commemorates a two week long peaceful demonstration in September 1991 in protest of then-guv Pete Wilson's veto of a bill that would guarantee that people would be protected in the workplace regardless of their sexual orientation. The protest culminated in a march on Sacramento, which is on the other end of the state. And now we're fighting for marriage rights in the state. We've come a long way, indeed.

One of many massive billboards advertising TV shows and movies along Sunset Blvd. This one touts True Blood, which my friends have introduced me to on this trip. It's very good from what little I've seen of it. I could say that the show sucks, but it's about vampires so that would be gratuitous.