Hot Plates Restaurant consultant Susan Fine has nursed many Los Angeles restaurants back to health (among them the Mandarin Cove and, most recently, the Seventh Street Bistro) with her ability to size up what people want and how to deliver it. We asked her to pick some of her favorite L.A. foods:
Coconut bread pudding and chocolate gateau mousseline at Restaurant Muse, Los Angeles. "It's nice to go for dessert and sit at the bar so you can enjoy the tropical fish tank. Order tea or cafe au lait ."
Sourdough baguettes at Pioneer Boulangerie, Santa Monica. "They're just like you'd buy in southwest France. The ones you buy at the restaurant are made the old-fashioned way, which takes eight hours. They're not the same as the ones they sell to stores. When I'm near there, I always buy a couple of loaves and freeze them."
Carpaccio at Prego, Beverly Hills. "It's ice-cold, paper-thin and super-fresh. They serve it with big shards of Parmesan cheese, capers and virgin olive oil."
Chorizo and scrambled eggs at West Beach Cafe, Venice. "Just like in Mexico. The black beans and salsa are homemade. It's nice to go early in the morning."
Gai-Hor at Talesai, West Hollywood. "This is chicken wrapped in corn husks and served with a sweet plum sauce that's just heavenly. It's the juiciest, lightest chicken I've ever tasted." Rated G Shanta Herzog is the executive director of the Children's Film and Television Center of America, which screens top American and foreign films at the Four Star Theater (on the third Saturday of every month) and hosts children's film festivals and library talks. To pick her five favorite children's films was quite a challenge.
"Curious George" (animated). "I really like the puppet animation in this one."
"Oh Boy, Babies!" "This is a wonderful story about sixth-grade boys who are learning how to take care of babies."
"Sounds of Sunshine, Sounds of Rain" (animated). "This is an Academy Award-winning story of a young blind boy."
"Crac" (animated). "The story of a rocking chair that goes through many generations. It's a wonderful mixture of music and art."
"Sammy's Super T-Shirt." "This is about a boy who wants to be an athlete, and his T-shirt gets involved in a magic experiment in which he thinks he can run well only if he's wearing it." Unchained Melodies Tom Nixon's passion is music. He's a composer, musician, musicologist and deejay. His Sunday radio show, "The Nixon Tapes," has aired for more than 10 years on KPFK, and his record collection numbers more than 10,000 albums and singles, everything from Homer and Jethro to classical. He knows where to find the most arcane albums in town, and these are a few of his favorite haunts:
Bebop Records & Fine Art, Reseda. "An oasis in the San Fernando Valley. Even though (owners) Rene Engel and Rich Bruland have to deal with a fairly small space, they do it with such style that it really doesn't matter. Their trivia knowledge is legendary. "
Rare Records, Glendale. "Particularly good for jazz records, the store also features a large stock of old 78s and 45s. I've found some great old ethnic gems--Calypso, African, Hawaiian, etc.--that would warm the heart of any real collector."
Aron's Records, West Hollywood. "An exceptional variety of records, and probably the largest bins of used records in town."
Tower Records, West Hollywood. "If you can stand the supermarket fluorescents and the people blasting their music from behind the counter, then this place is worth checking out. They have a larger and more varied selection than any store since the demise of Vogue in Westwood."
Harmonia Mundi USA, West Los Angeles. "Strictly speaking, not a record store but an import warehouse featuring a huge catalogue of early music, as well as some exceptional French ethnomusicological albums--try any of the ones from Madagascar; you won't be sorry--and the French RCA jazz reissues. Give them a call and they'll send you a catalogue."