THINGS I ATE: Dinner at Stella Barra in Hollywood


After a recent viewing of Star Trek: Into Darkness, my friend jash and I felt the need to wildly decompress from two hours of explosions, Spock bangs, and futuristic 9/11 imagery. And so we too stepped into darkness by taking in dinner at the dimly lit Stella Barra on Sunset Boulevard. Attached to the ArcLight and cousin to Stella Rosa in Santa Monica, the new restaurant has a reputation for awesome pizza and killer cookies. Naturally, this was right up my (Kirstie) alley. That was a bonus Star Trek reference, in case you were wondering.

jash and I kept the order simple. He ordered a glass of wine and a spinach and kale salad with pecorino ramona, Medjool dates, shaved radishes, and mustard vinaigrette. I too wanted to be healthy, but resistance was futile. I wound up requesting a fennel bianco pizza, which featured fennel, burrata, rosemary, torn basil, and olive oil. The friendly waiter then informed us that the policy of the restaurant is that when something is ready, it’s ready, and the food will arrive as such. It seemed like a strange approach, but I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal — that is, until jash’s salad arrived five minutes later (sans wine), and we had to wait an additional fifteen or twenty for my pizza. Yes, we were warned of the policy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As for that salad, it was very tasty, but teeny tiny. We’re talking side-salad size. At $10, it veers into “overpriced” territory. More appropriately priced was my pizza ($15), which was strong flavor-wise, but was so soggy and oily in the middle that the slices were near impossible to hold. Still, structural issues aside, I enjoyed the burrata and fennel, and found I was able to crisp up the slices a bit more the next day when I flung the leftovers in a skillet and heated them up for five minutes.

Eventually, the waiter discovered that he had neglected to bring jash’s wine, and to apologize, he gave us a free chocolate chip Rice Krispie treat cookie that may as well have descended directly from heaven. This cookie was far and away the best part of dinner, and I would truly consider going back to Stella Barra for the cookie alone.

ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Entenmann’s Baking Challenge; Also, A Cookbook Giveaway!


For years I’ve loved the Entenmann’s family of products, particularly the chocolate-frosted doughnuts (best when dunked in milk), the devil’s food cake doughnuts, the cupcakes, the chocolate chip cookies, and of course the chocolate fudge cake. I therefore was thrilled when Entenmann’s offered to send me a box of bakeware as well the company’s new cookbook, Entenmann’s Big Book of Baking, for free on the condition that I hold a baking party and document it on my blog. Done and DONE.

The timing could not have been more perfect. As it turned out, I was headed to the Hamptons this past weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday (NEIL, to be specific — his name has been bandied about from time to time here). What better way to help ring in a new year in Neil’s life than by baking up a storm? With the help of my new friend Lynsley of Popcorn and M&Ms, I set up shop in Neil’s kitchen and churned out no less than five recipes from Entenmann’s Big Book of Baking.

Ah, but how did they turn out? Results after the jump…

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13 Horrific Examples of Animal Cruelty in Nintendo Games

Pure evil.

This past weekend, Nintendo released Super Mario 3D Land, which features the return of the Tanooki Suit, a brown racoon-esque costume that first appeared way back in 1988 when Super Mario 3 hit stores. To some, this furry, tan outfit represents cute nostalgia, but for many of us, we can’t help but see it for what it is: a flippant disregard for the many tanukis who’ve given their pelts and their lives for man’s quest to manufacture flight-enabling fur coats. Thankfully, the good people of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have spoken up.

Peta released this statement: “Tanooki may be just a ‘suit’ in Mario games, but by wearing the skin of an animal, Mario is sending the message that it’s OK to wear fur.”

Truer words have never been spoken, and I’m glad that someone is finally taking Mario to task. For years I’ve been decrying the plumber’s use of fireballs as a reckless endorsement of pyromania, and let’s not begin to talk about his fixation with magic mushrooms. It’s about time that this mascot’s obscene behavior is called into question.

Of course, the Tanooki Suit debacle isn’t the first time Nintendo has so fecklessly thrown animal rights out the window. After the jump, please prepare yourself for thirteen of the more horrifying and nauseating examples of animal cruelty as depicted in Nintendo’s allegedly “family-friendly” games.

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Catching Up With ‘Revenge’ (a.k.a. The Best Show EVER)


There are only two shows I’ve heard people buzzing about this fall, and conveniently they air back to back on ABC. The first is Happy Endings, which I began watching three weeks ago and have since become utterly obsessed with. It remains the first and only show I’ve ever actually invested money into at the iTunes store. Beyond a doubt, it’s my new favorite comedy and ten times funnier than anything else on TV, and that most certainly includes its lead-in, the once-triumphant and now rote Modern Family.

The other noteworthy series is Revenge, a title so inherently melodramatic that I couldn’t help but hear a dramatic chord play in my head as I emboldened the text just now. People, especially my friend jash, have been buzzing about Revenge for several weeks now, and so I decided to take the plunge. This was something of an undertaking for me as I’m fairly reluctant to hop on a soap train once it’s started. I don’t like playing catch-up — I have a hard enough time keeping up with the shows I already watch, let alone ones I’d have to troll through Hulu to watch. But that’s exactly what I did (insert self-congratulatory applause here), and am I so thoroughly happy with that decision (more self-congratulatory applause). It’s safe to say that like Happy Endings, I am now utterly obsessed with Revenge (both on TV and in life I suppose), and so naturally, what better way to extol the virtues of the show than by writing about it here on this blog?

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Here’s a fun fact that my friend jash filled me in on: the character of “Boo” from Super Mario Bros. is actually called “Teresa” in Japan. It sort of makes sense if you think about it. After all, Teresa Giudice bears many similarities to that pixelated fiend. They’re both evil, they both have fangs, and they both cover their eyes when faced with reality (which in the case of the Nintendo game is represented by Mario’s mustachioed face). The point is this: if I’m in a dark castle, I don’t know which I’d be more scared of encountering — Teresa or a ghost named Teresa.

Yes, Teresa is a scary creature, and we were able to catch a glimpse of her frightening perceptions of reality last night on the reunion for The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The entire show played out as an extended us-against-Teresa bonanza, and as such, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I’ve never been shy about my distaste for Tre, but for two seasons, her stupidity had been out-crazied by the likes of Danielle Staub. Now with Public Enemy #1 out of Franklin Lakes, the spotlight has fallen on Teresa, and it seems like everyone is finally realizing what I’ve known all along: Teresa is awful. Oh look at me taking credit for being the first to realize this. How TRE of me.

Anyway, with the season over (the longest in the history of any Housewives franchise), Andy Cohen gathered most of the cast in Redbank, NJ to hash things out. Missing was Jacqueline, who apparently had just engaged in an epic blowout with Teresa the night before during taping for season four. She was so distraught that she simply could not appear on the reunion. Talk about clever marketing for next season.

After the jump, check out a photocap of the reunion, which more or less amounted to a lynching of Teresa. Of course, if you were to hear it from Teresa, she’d probably say that she came out on top…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Ina Garten’s Chocolate Cake Edition


Last week, I was both craving chocolate and feeling the need to procrastinate on an epic scale. What better excuse to bake a chocolate cake? But which recipe should I use? The last time I tried to make chocolate cake, I made an epic disaster by fusing a Mark Bittman recipe with an Aida Mollenkamp pudding frosting. It was all sorts of wrong (although the pudding frosting was quite delicious). Nevertheless, when it comes to these sort of First World problems, I always head to my favorite TV cook: Ina Garten! One of Ina’s top recipes is her famous “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake,” which currently has a five-star rating on with 1,250 reviews. Yes, this is probably Ina’s most popular offering, but I’ve never attempted it before because quite frankly I was scared.

You see, about two years ago, my friend jash attempted Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, and the result was a smoky, messy cake wreck. The batter overflowed in his pans, spilling out all over the oven and wreaking general havoc on his kitchen. This was notable because a) Ina recipes rarely go this wrong, and b) jash is a very accomplished home cook in his own right. He NEVER encounters such catastrophe. Surely if jash couldn’t succeed, what chance did I have? I mean, earlier this summer I left the FLOUR out of a cookie recipe. I made cookies with NO FLOUR. I shouldn’t even say that I made cookies. I made a crumbly MESS. Beatty’s Chocolate Cake would certainly be a risky endeavor.

Pictures of my valiant attempt after the jump…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Madhur Jaffrey’s Chicken in a Red Sweet Pepper Sauce Edition


Recently I’ve been craving Indian food for no good reason, and while I’m usually more than happy to simply pick up a hefty order from my favorite local spot (Crown of India — don’t mind the tranny hookers in the parking lot), I’ve decided that this is a cuisine I’d really like to start cooking. I already knew how to whip up a pretty awesome chicken tikka masala thanks to a Cooks Illustrated recipe, but how many times could I make that? Many, as it turns out. But I craved more. And so I decided to look up a recipe for one of my favorite Indian dishes: chicken Korma. Well, thanks to the magic of the internet, I found many recipes for this simple curry. In fact, I found TOO many. I didn’t know which to choose. Do I trust a random blog? Or do I go with the seemingly inauthentic stuff found on Clearly, I needed a source I could trust. Enter Madhur Jaffrey.

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Sandra Lee Curses, Is Fun

Sandra Lee, Food Network star and First Lady of New York, has many detractors. Most assail her utterly disgusting recipes (Kwanzaa cake anyone?) and others her sing-songy delivery. Well, Sandra Lee haters, we now have more grist for your mill. Outtakes of the flaxen cook attempting to get through a shoot have surfaced. They’re replete with cursing and boob clutching, and quite frankly, the video actually makes me like her. If this were the Sandra Lee we could see on TV — all boozy and foul-mouthed — I’d be all about it, despite her dubious recipes. What do you think?

The video has already been taken down from YouTube and Vimeo; so catch it on Eater while you can…

Eater LA: Here’s Sandra Lee Swearing in ‘Semi-Homemade’ Outtakes

Thanks JASH.