Every year The Los Angeles Times hosts the glorious food festival known as Los Angeles Times The Taste, and for the past three summers in a row, I’ve been ever so fortunate to snag an invitation to the newspaper’s test kitchen where massively influential food bloggers — nay, WRITERS — get to preview some of the bites at the upcoming event. For the organizers, it’s a great way to get word out. For the writers, it’s a perfect chance to stuff our faces like a bunch of malnourished baboons. We all win!
In an effort to fend off my innate pear-shaped physique, I tried to show some sort of restraint during this week’s preview, but unfortunately, I tend to get Requiem For A Dream eyeballs around food; so it was basically a lost cause. Check out some pics of me pigging out after the jump…
When it comes to eating healthy, I’m not always known for my self-discipline. Sure, I had a month this summer where I stayed away from all carbs, breads, and otherwise joy-inducing foods, but generally, I’m in a constant state of declaring healthy intentions while simultaneously shoving Kit-Kats into my face. This past week was no exception. Things started off in a dark (read: wonderful place) when a visit to the Orange County Fair resulted in sublime consumption of funnel cake, chocolate dipped ice cream cones, and various other diet-adverse items. I swore I would do better for myself, but of course, things rapidly spiraled out of control.
You see, the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated appeared in my mailbox, and in its monochromatic pages was a recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake. Suddenly, hearts appeared in my eyes and Tchaikovsky’s love theme from Romeo & Juliet blared all around me. I had to make this. I had to! But I couldn’t, especially not during this week of county fair gut reparations. Besides, why would I just make a CAKE for no reason?
And then fate came calling. Turns out I had plans to attend a game night at the end of the week, and as luck would have it, that game night was now being upgraded to a birthday celebration for my friend Lodric. I was told I was on cake duty, and far be it for me to deny that responsibility. The planets had aligned: I had the perfect excuse to make the chocolate-caramel layer cake.
Do you smell that? It’s the faint aroma of self-tanner, rancid meat, and self-pity. It can only mean one thing: Big Brother is back!!! Yes, America’s favorite summertime tradition has returned, and I could not be happier. For too long has my life been without vapid, beautiful people, but that all changed this week when CBS unleashed about 35 new faces on us. There was Clay, the gorgeous Texas native who has happily ascended to the dreamboat throne vacated by Cody last season. And then there was… Clay. And Clay. And more Clay.
Okay, fine. There are other cast members too. Audrey is Big Brother’s first transgendered houseguest, which is pretty cool. And John is Big Brother’s 453rd self-appointed rock ‘n’ roll houseguest, which is less cool. We also have resident nerd Steve (currently at the top of my faves), resident muscle nerd Austin (also at the top of my faves), and resident cookie enthusiast Jace (nowhere near my faves).
There are more — many more — but I’m not going to get into it. Most of these people seem promising, which is of course how all seasons begin: promise, followed by some early spats, which lead to a few predictable weeks of evictions, culminating with a mid-season explosion or two, and then finally settling into a quiet final stretch. Here’s to hoping things are more thrilling than last year’s dull parade to the finish line.
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, and according to Wikipedia, it is affectionately known as Savage Mountain due to its extreme fatality rate. About one in every four climbers die, and if you’re a woman, be extra careful: K2 is notoriously misogynist. It wasn’t until 1986 that a lady ever summited K2, and in the subsequent eighteen years, every woman who tried DIED.
Naturally, K2 is the perfect setting for a board game.
Enter “K2,” a nifty game that sees players guiding two unlucky adventurers up (and possibly down) the eponymous mountain. Along the way, our little mountaineers face inclement weather, altitude sickness, and general fatigue — all in an attempt to earn glory and skirt death. It’s not an easy feat, but my friends Jim, Jess, and PT seemed up for it. After the jump, enjoy highlights from our dramatic expedition.
Comic and journalist Louis Virtel (Hitfix.com) joins Ben Mandelker (bsideblog.com, Watch What Crappens podcast) to tell us everything about his recent appearance on “Jeopardy,” which subsequently went viral. From the application process to life atop Reddit, Louis shares the whole experience.
After that, it’s just an avalanche of banter, most of it pertaining to Madonna, Whitney Houston, Garbage, Annie Lennox, and many more. It’s a fun episode, and perhaps the longest one yet. Enjoy!
It’s been a year or two since I last dusted off my handy ice cream maker, and every time I gaze at its shiny, white shell (which is admittedly not often), I grow wistful for those heady days when I would pour fatty custards into its spinning innards and find glorious ice creams and gelatos waiting for me thirty minutes later. Damn, I love ice cream.
I mean, I really love ice cream.
Of course, who doesn’t love ice cream? Lactose intolerant people, probably. Or maybe people with six-packs. For most of us though, we all scream for ice cream, which is why I was particularly excited when a large box filled with complimentary Nancy’s Fancy gelato arrived at my doorstep last week. The creation of acclaimed pastry-chef Nancy Silverton, Nancy’s Fancy promises a luxe dessert experience, but does it deliver? And is it worth the $10.99 price tag? Yes, you read that correctly: Nancy’s Fancy retails for $10.99 a pint.
To find out the answers to these pressing issues, I brought two pints — Coconut Stracciatella with Bittersweet Chocolate Strands, Frutti di Bosco – Greek Yogurt and Mixed Berries — to my friend’s house for a group tasting. This was all rather convenient as we were all assembling anyway to play the zombie board game “Dead of Winter.” Zombies + Nancy Silverton = an intriguing night to say the least.
Kyle Buchanan (senior editor at New York Magazine’s Vulture) returns to “The Banter Blender” to discuss summer movies with Ben Mandelker (@watch-what-crappens). The two talk “Avengers,” “Mad Max,” “Star Wars,” “Trainwreck,” “Spy,” “Jurassic World,” and more.
Plus, there’s talk of Rachel McAdams and the state of her career.
moviesbanterKyle Buchanansummer moviesAvengersStar WarsStar Wars: The Force AwakensThe Force AwakensMad MaxAge of UltronMad Max: Fury RoadRachel McAdamsAnt ManfilmCaptain America: Winter SoldierMarvelBanter BlenderBen MandelkerTrainwreckJurassic World
This week on The Banter Blender, Ben Mandelker welcomes back Angie Thomas (the Small Potatoes podcast) to talk about a host of exciting topics. The two take on Easter Candy, Weight Watchers, Indiana’s anti-gay laws, jambalaya, Passover foods, and Karrueche Tran (naturally). Plus, there’s more chatter about board games such as Jenga and Dead of Winter, and some genial gushing about some of our friends at the top of the episode. Come listen!