Plug Your Mouth at Tacos Tu Madre

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There’s no shortage of tacos in Los Angeles, except for maybe in Little Armenia, but who am I kidding? There are tacos there too. Tacos are everywhere in Los Angeles. I mean er’rywhere. Yes, tacos and L.A. go together like pizza and New York, chowder and Boston, Outback and Orange County — classic combinations that won’t be going away anytime soon.

The humble taco has seen its stock rise in recent years. Purveyors such as Guisado’s and Kogi and Petty Cash have reminded Angelenos that tacos can be about so much more than ground meat, crappy cheese, and some generic toppings (although, when done right, that can still be so good). Throwing their hat into the elevated taco game is Tacos Tu Madre, a funky little taqueria that serves up flavors both traditional and “fancy.” At a recent media-comped meal, I was able to enjoy some of the concoctions on offer, and I’m happy to report that the taco renaissance continues to blossom. Pics of the fun stuff after the jump…

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ADVENTURES IN GAME TIME: ‘Gold West’ Edition

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There aren’t many board games that do double duty as Village People song puns, but Gold West is here to buck the trend. Admittedly, the term “Go West” could also be credited to 19th century author Horace Greeley, but that’s not nearly as fun. I like to think “Gold West’s” designer J. Alex Kevern was making a cheeky reference to classic disco (or maybe even the Pet Shop Boys) when he conceived the name. I know I would.

Nevertheless, I always enjoy a good pun, and there’s no better way to win over my good graces than some light wordplay in a game title. Therefore, I was particularly eager to dive into my new copy of Gold West, generously provided by its publisher, Tasty Minstrel Games. Would the game strike gold? Or would it just be another sad lump of California dirt?

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ADVENTURES IN GAME TIME: ‘Nippon’ Edition

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Is there anything more fun than pretending to be 19th century Japanese industrialists? I don’t think so. Luckily for us, there’s a fantastic new game on shelves that captures the thrill of modernizing Japan, all from the comfort of your dining room table. Finally, the zaibatsu simulation you’ve always wanted.

This madness is called Nippon, and please do not let my snarky tone confuse you: the game is awesome. Players will ascend to great, industrialized heights, thanks to savvy investments in lightbulbs and bento boxes and other exciting goods (paper, anyone?). Factories will rise, infrastructures will grow, and influence will blossom across the island of Japan. Also, your brain may just turn into a pretzel. But what a fun pretzel it will be!

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PLAYERS GONNA PLAY: Viking Bravery and ‘The Champions of Midgard’

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When it comes to knowledge of Scandinavia, I sadly glean most facts from my Ikea cookbook, the Thor franchise, and occasional episodes of The Amazing Race. Oh, and my friend Diana. She’s from Sweden.

Nevertheless, one thing I definitely do know about Northern Europe is that Vikings used to sail its shores, paving the way for a cultural legacy that includes the Bjursta extendable table, the Nobel prize, and now The Champions of Midgard, a brand new board game from Grey Fox Games.

What glories lie in this game’s cardboard box? Answers after the jump…

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New Episode of Banter Blender is Up!

Sorry folks, I really do want to get these episodes up more regularly again, but I’m happy to report we’ve made up for lost time with this latest installment of The Banter Blender. We touch on all the important stuff: reality stars downstairs, Lamar Odom, oversized sandwiches, Adele, my new board game, and candy. Lots of talk about candy. We get into it, people. Come listen, and if you like it, share it with your friends!

Special guests Angie Thomas and David Clark, co-hosts of the Deep Thots podcast!

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Maangchi Madness!

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If there’s any cuisine I’m totally obsessed with, it’s probably Korean. On any given night I’m pestering my friends to grab some grub in Koreatown — or K-Town (not to be confused with my hometown of Katonah, NY, also known as K-Town amongst the local ruffians). Whether it’s BBQ or tofu or grilled clams or hot pot or raw crabs or fatty bossam or refreshing hwe dup bap, I want it all, and I generally want it every meal.

This does not happen.

I do have some enablers — my friend Sly is almost always good for a trip to our favorite K-Town eateries (Soowon Galbi, A-Won, or even Hodori) — but mostly, I spend a lot of time pining. Luckily, Amazon.com has direct access to my brain and happily suggested I “treat myself to a little something,” and in this case, it was a cookbook by Korean cook cum Youtube star Maangchi. The collection of recipes certainly looked interesting… and the reviews were stellar… and I hadn’t purchased a Korean cookbook in years… and… well, you know where this is headed.

After some hemming and hawing, I bought the book, visited the Korean grocer, and soon found myself knee-deep in Korean madness. Pics of what I made and some thoughts on the final product after the jump…

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Making Life Easier in ‘La Granja’

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Last week I casually ranked all the board games in my collection, with one of my favorites being La Granja. It’s about farming in Majorca (finally, something to fill that gaming void), and one of the central mechanics has players sliding cards under a cardboard “farm” to spectacular effect. Well, unfortunately, all this pushing and sliding often causes the farmstead to shift around, causing chaos amongst the carefully placed cards. To that I say NO MORE! I’ve come up with a $2 fix, which should help all us OCD types press on in the quest of pastoral dominance.

The Earth-shattering solution after the jump…

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A Bunch of Board Games You Should Play

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A year ago, my friend and former blog partner Joe (a.k.a. J-Unit) had a bachelor party up in Lake Tahoe. It was a pretty fun bro weekend full of beer pong, barbecuing, and a forest fire (unrelated to the barbecuing). With the area full of smoke, we spent a lot of time indoors, and thankfully our friend Isaac had brought a game. Specifically, Settlers of Catan. It was the first time I had even heard of this cultural phenomenon, and I can assure you that after my first play, my life was changed — CHANGED, I TELL YOU. Catan blew my mind, and being that I’m a curious type, I spent the next several weeks devouring any sort of media about it that I could find (videos, articles, performance art, anything). I soon discovered that Settlers of Catan was only the tip of the gaming iceberg. There were many, many, many more modern board games out in the world, and they were a far cry from the roll-and-move games of our youth.

A year later, I’ve slid down the rabbit hole and found myself fully obsessed with modern board games. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise: I’ve been a video game fanatic for years; so board games are a logical next step in my playtime activities. Nevertheless, one of my great weaknesses is forcing my obsessions onto innocent bystanders, and subsequently, I now talk everyone’s ear off about tabletop gaming, often hijacking my podcasts to extol the virtues of Catan or Dead of Winter.

The response has actually been pretty cool. I receive several Tweets and messages asking for recommendations, and who am I to deny ANYONE my thoughtful opinion? I’m not a monster, after all. I AM AN INFLUENCER, DAMMIT. (Somewhere there is a Klout score to verify this, as well as several free shaving kits, some Hulu vouchers, and an Audi).

That being said, after the jump, check out an unsolicited tour of my gaming collection. Hopefully you’ll find something in there that will inspire you to either dive into the hobby or expand your collection. At the very least, it’s a fun way to pass five minutes on the Internet.

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Advanced Studies in Creamistry

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Fans of this blog may remember my ice cream phase from 2011. This was a gloriously unhealthy period kicked off by the purchase of an ice cream maker and the cookbook The Perfect Scoop. Readers at the time told me that an ice cream maker would just sit on my shelf and collect dust, but they were wrong. It was put to major use for six months and THEN relegated to the shelf to collect dust. i stopped because I was being way too unhealthy, but oh, the memories from that time are vivid and wondrous. I learned so much over those months. For instance, did you know that ice cream is quite possibly the worst thing you could ever put into your body? Of course you did. Watching the cups of cream, then sugar, then egg yolks go into the batter is nothing short of a shameful experience, but you know, it’s what needs to be done. But I digress.

Back to the learning part. As a one-time ice cream expert, I learned about the freezing process. Sugar content, for instance, is a key component. Too much sugar, and the ice cream will melt almost instantaneously. Too little, and it will be hard and crystalline. (Don’t quote me on that: I could possibly have the sugar situation reversed). Oh, and freezing that ice cream? It’s a whole process. First you have to freeze a special cylinder for at least 24 hours; then you have to chill the ice cream batter overnight, and then, only then can the ice cream churning begin. The point is that making ice cream is a long, unhealthy process (but oh so delicious).

This is where Creamistry, a new Beverly Hills ice cream shop, comes into play. Gone are the vats of batter, quietly chilling in the fridge. Instead, Creamistry offers customizable ice creams from scratch, made in seconds via liquid nitrogen. But is it actually any good? Keep reading to find out…

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BANTER BLENDER #111: Bagels, Hollywood, and The Game of Fiasco

Last week, my friend Jessica Ogilvie (twitter.com/jessicapauline) joined me on The Banter Blender for some good old fashioned banter. As usual, the topics spanned a large variety of topics, starting with another lengthy dissertation on bagels: how we like our cream cheese, how we feel about the word “shmear,” and other important observations from our Northeastern Jewish perspectives.

Eventually, we move on to Hollywood where Jessica tells us about a cover story she wrote for “LA Weekly” a few weeks ago about women in Hollywood. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the gender inequality that plagues the film industry.

Finally, we discuss a recent playthrough of the role-playing game “Fiasco” by Jason Morningstar. Yes, role-playing. But this isn’t some retread of “Dungeons & Dragons.” It was our first time ever tackling an RPG, and not only was it one of the funniest nights we’ve had in recent memory, we can’t wait to do it all again. Definitely tune in to hear about this experience.

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