Thursday, June 30, 2011

In the Face of Carmageddon - Fun In Spite of the Apocarlypse

"What would you save in a fire?"  is supposed to be one of those questions which prompts answers that reveal a lot about who you are and what's important to you.

With the impending automotive doom (i.e. closure of a crazy busy 10-mile stretch of the 405 freeway between the 101 and 10 freeways July 15 10pm to July 18 5am) - endearingly named "Carmageddon" - nearly upon us here in Los Angeles, we find it is more than just a test of our patience  but the very fiber of our being.  All in the area find themselves asking what they are doing in anticipation of this, the unimaginable - and many preparing for it with the fervor of doomsday believers on the eve of the millenium. Some plan to stay home all weekend July 15-18 despite the siren call of the beach in thick of SoCal summer. Some lucky ones call the beach their home, in which case staying home is rapturous vs. apocalyptic.  Neighborhood businesses are leveraging the locavore message and offering deals to attract customers in hopes of maintaining income over the dark period. Surrounding communities pull close, with friends and family hosting misfortunate weekend workers to save them a 'death march commute'; KCRW issues a plea for Santa Monica residents to 'host a displaced farmer'.  Hotels offer "Carmageddon" specials. Some choose to flee the city altogether. Babies of all ages have started crying weeks in advance (myself included).

Ok, so it's not really the end of the world.  just an incredible inconvenience during what should have been a perfect summer weekend - that we will surely live through. But it is an event of great magnitude for a car-centric city, one to be reckoned with - and so we arrive at the big question: with so much at stake, what would you do in the face of Carmageddon?

I don't know about you, but here are a few things I would brave apocarlyptic traffic for that weekend:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
Opens in theaters July 15, check local listings for showtimes

The final chapter in an epic seven-book, eight-movie journey.  Harry's come an incredibly long way in the last (for millions of people) generation defining decade - and this is his final battle to the death with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  What's confrontation with a little traffic in comparisan?  Be there, as "it ends...where it all began".  I'm so there. In 3D.  And possibly IMAX.

Eat Real Fest
8800 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
Saturday 7/16 10:30am-9 pm Sunday 7/17 10:30 am-5 pm

As descriptions go, Eat Real Fest had me hooked at first sight:

"Eat it. Make it. Grow it... The Eat Real Festival celebrates all things tasty, fresh, and handmade with a focus on street food, local wines, handcrafted beers, and traditional food craft – all featuring sustainable, local ingredients. But eating is only part of the fun. We also show you how to make it and grow it. From home cheesemaking to backyard chickens, you can explore a DIY lifestyle with demos and activities galore. Or just grab a taco and a beer and enjoy our full schedule of entertainment with bands, butchery contests, lit fest, and other tasty tidbits."

Combining "a state fair, a street-food festival, and a block party," the festival is "100% free" to attend and gourmet purveyors will offer food for just $5!

Event organizers have made arrangements to make getting to the event as hassle free as possible with shuttles, bike valet and even free bike rides from the nearest purple line Metro station. Check event site for details.

So there's really no excuse not to go - afterall, in times of trial and tribulation is when we all come together and support each other as a community more than ever - especially when that community involves small local businesses and the great cause of sustainable, good food!  I'm willing to brave the traffic for this!

The Saban Free Clinic's Extravaganza for the Senses
Sunset Gower Studios 1438 N. Gower St., Hollywood, CA 90028
Saturday, July 16 VIP admission 6-10pm, GA admission 7-10pm

The 14th annual event benefitting The Saban Free Clinic offers the chance to sample food and wine from 40 great restaurants including Chaya, Jar, The Foundry, Breadbar, Momed and Upstairs 2, and dozens of wineries for a good cause. In the way of entertainment, there will be a silent auction, psychic-readings, and a complimentary massage from Burke Williams Spa.

All proceeds benefit The Saban Free Clinic, which provides free medical, dental and social services to the homeless, uninsured, working poor, runaway and high-risk youth.  What better reason and inspiration to defy the odds and challenge the status quo?  In your face, Carmageddon.

Providence 6th Anniversary Tasting Menu - Extended through July!
5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038

In June, Michelin-starred Providence (arguably the best restaurant in LA) celebrated their 6th anniversary by offering a 5-course tasting menu for $70 per person ($115 with wine pairings).  This was an absolute dream and the only time I could afford a full meal there.  Chef Cimarusti is a genius and seafood lovers and fans know this is pretty much the best deal of the year.  I went twice in June (get the full recap here) and was super excited to see yesterday that the restaurant has extended the deal through the month of July due to popular demand! 

So, why choose Carmageddon when there are 27 other dates of the month to choose from to dine there again?  Because Providence is where I would want to be, no question, if I were to choose where to have my last supper on earth.  And, it's more mid-city and further east than Sepulveda Pass, so it may not be that bad of a drive.  Call me a hopeless optimist.

Hollywood Farmers' Market

Ivar and Selma, Hollywood, CA

Because I've developed an addiction to this market, with its great fresh produce, oysters shucked to order, fantastic street food and just general awesomeness.  Plus, it's well away from the 405, and those weary of traffic on surface streets can take the Metro to it if so inclined (get off at Hollywood/Vine station and it's just a short walk, a block away).

Here I would expect to be able to pretend it's like any other week: stock up on good food for cheap and feel good about supporting local farmers and food producers. 


So, that's my rundown of journey-worthy options so far for the weekend.  Getting the latest on deals and specials for the weekend in my special edition of 1MB Savvy Saveurs here.  Prefer to stay in?  There's lots you can do there as well - check out LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's ideas for 53 ways to survive without the 405.  Can car-centric Angelenos still have fun with all the harbingers of impending doom - I say yes, yes we can. 

Now questions for you: Am I missing anything big?  What are your plans for Carmageddon?

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