A Bunch of Board Games You Should Play


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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Fighting the “Dead of Winter” with Nancy’s Fancy Gelatti & Sorbetti


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.

Pictures and revelations after the jump…

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The Only Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Best Cream Cheese Frosting Ever

This past weekend, my friend Sly celebrated a birthday, and in her honor, I baked Ina Garten’s impeccable Carrot and Pineapple Cake. It was actually the second time in three weeks that I’ve made the recipe for a birthday, which is significant only because the first time around, I couldn’t help but feel like Ina’s cream cheese frosting was a little… off.

Avid readers of this blog know that I think Ina Garten is basically flawless, but here’s the hardcore truth: the Barefoot Contessa cream cheese frosting veers way too closely into buttercream territory. In fact, it’s barely tangy at all. There, I SAID IT.

Nevertheless, as I prepared to bake Sly’s very own carrot cake, I wanted to learn from Ina’s missteps. I was determined to create a batch of cream cheese frosting that was tangy and amazing and decadent enough to be worthy of Sly.

I’m happy to report that I not only achieved this, but I actually knocked it out of the park. This was the best cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made, and Sly herself even proclaimed it was the best she’d tasted. There’s no great science to it, but with a variety of cream cheese frosting recipes online, I think it’s important that someone drive a flag into the ground and declare that the Internet search is over: THIS is the only cream cheese frosting recipe you’ll ever need.

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THINGS I ATE: Sausage and Beer at ‘Berlin Currywurst’


It’s October, and among the fall pleasures in Los Angeles is Oktoberfest, that German celebration of the harvest or beer or who knows what. The point is that I have Germany on the mind, which means this is a great opportunity to revisit a restaurant my friends and I dropped by over the summer: Berlin Currywurst.

Ardent readers of this blog may remember that I happily visited the Silver Lake location of “Berlin Currywurst” on its opening day two and a half years ago. Since then, the plucky sausage shop has expanded into fresh new digs in Hollywood, taking over an old BBQ joint on Cahuenga and adding on a biergarten. There really aren’t enough outdoor biergartens in this city, and so it was with high hopes that I assembled a crew of people to head to Berlin Currywurst for an afternoon of beer, sausage, and outdoorsiness.

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BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #69: Government Shutdown! New Britney Spears Video! Moby Dick!

You guys, this was a good one….

There’s only one podcast on earth that can discuss the government shutdown, Britney Spears’s new video, and Moby Dick without skipping a beat. We discuss all that and more on this latest episode of “Banter with Ben and Lisa.” Also going into the banter blender: “Gravity,” ghost tours of Savannah, biker gangs, Grand Theft Auto V, and what your Facebook status updates might say about you. Plus, more etiquette lessons from 1888. Come listen!

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BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #68: Emmys Recap, Jon Gosselin, Nate Burleson, and Portland Adventures

This week on “Banter with Ben and Lisa,” Ben Mandelker (bsideblog.com) and Lisa Timmons (twitter.com/timmonslisa) give pop culture a big bear hug. First, Ben discusses his recent trip to Portland and shares passages from an 1888 etiquette book he found at Powell’s Bookstore. Then the two talk about Nate Burleson of the Detroit Lions and his pizza-related injury. After that, it’s a mix of the Emmys, Jon Gosselin, and lessons about parquet floors. Come listen!

Also, remember to sign up with godaddy.com and use the promo code “banter” at checkout to get a .com for only $1.99! This is a cray cray deal, and you should really use it people. Two bucks for a dotcom? Amazing. Just click here!

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BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #65: Nantucket Adventure; Also, The Conjuring and The Lion King

This week on “Banter with Ben and Lisa,” Ben Mandelker (bsideblog.com) and Lisa Timmons (socialitelife.com) discuss a harrowing tale of courage and adventure on the violent waters of Nantucket. Electronics were destroyed, memories were made. Then we discuss “The Conjuring” and another similarly intense piece of cinema: “The Lion King.” All that and plenty of other tangents. Come listen!

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BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #60: Royal Babies, Kardashian-Jenner Conflict, and Amanda Bynes

On this week’s “Banter with Ben and Lisa,” we talk babies: from Prince George Alexander to North West. We then check in on Brody Jenner’s clash with stepmom Kris Jenner and discuss the latest craziness in Amanda Bynes’ life. Plus, we read a seething piece of hate mail from a Fox News viewer. Always fun!

Oh, and if you want to get a .com domain at Godaddy for $1.99, go to http://www.godaddy.com/?isc=banter and remember to use “banter” as your promo code on checkout!

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THINGS I ATE: Korean Grub at Kobawoo House


Kobawoo House in Koreatown is hardly a discovery. The place has been packing in eager diners for years and years, with hungry patrons lining up to taste the restaurant’s famed pork belly bossam (not to mention the expert seafood pancake also found on the menu). What exactly is bossam? It’s basically meat that gets rolled up in pickled radish or cabbage. That’s the simplistic, white-man’s version at least. Don’t worry — I have pictures.

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BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA #59: Lindsay Lohan, Tara Reid, Hoku, and Other Failures

This week on “Banter with Ben and Lisa,” Ben Mandelker (bsideblog.com) and Lisa Timmons (@timmonslisa) talk extensively about such pop culture failures as Lindsay Lohan, Tara Reid, and Hoku. Who’s Hoku? Exactly. Along the way, we naturally tackle racist controversies from Paula Deen and Big Brother 15, and revisit one of our favorite movies, “Jurassic Park,” yet again. Come listen!

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