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Vanessa Soto

Vanessa Soto

Vanessa is an LA native who writes about food and film and has a deep love for puns. Check out her blog noseasovast.blogspot.com, and follow her on Twitter @noseasovast.

News (19)

A native Angeleno's first impressions of Chicago

A native Angeleno's first impressions of Chicago

Transitions can be tough, and moving from Los Angeles to Chicago for a month is no small jump. I came out here from the West Coast in April, and I’m doing my best to acclimate to Chicago life; I took my first shot of Malort, I bought a hat, I have a Ventra card. Now that the dust has settled, here are some of the culture shocks I’ve encountered so far in the Midwest. The weather: Springtime in Chicago does a great impression of winter in LA, with the exception that overcast days aren’t an empty threat here. When it gets cloudy, it actually rains. I’ve seen more lightning in two weeks in Chicago than I have in three years in LA, and I now have a much deeper understanding of the phrase “windchill factor.” Even crazier to me than the weather is the fact that no one in Chicago talks about the weather (or at least not to me). Let the weather in LA veer from 75 and sunny in any direction and everyone is talking about it; Chicago has a huge storm and no one says a word. The food: Midwestern food is heavy, you guys. As thrilled as I am to be able to have Shake Shack without waiting in line for hours, I have never felt as compelled to work some salads into my diet as I have since landing in Chicago. I’ve seen five-egg omelettes on breakfast menus, eaten sandwiches slathered in sauce and cheese and don’t even get me started on the focaccia at Eataly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happily devouring it, but I'm very grateful for all the walking I’m doing here. The drivers: The most surprising

Four films to see at the Indian Film Festival

Four films to see at the Indian Film Festival

The best thing about living in a cinema-centric town like LA is being able to take advantage of all the film festivals the city has to offer. If you didn’t get a chance to make the trek to Utah for Sundance this year, there are still plenty of amazing films in your backyard. The Indian Film Festival LA runs from April 6-10, and we’ve got you covered with four films to check out this weekend. All IFFLA screenings take place at the Arclight Hollywood. For tickets and more information visit www.indianfilmfestival.org Umrika As a young boy, this film's lead character, Ramakant, receives letters from his older brother, Udai, which color his days in his small Indian village. As time passes, Ramakant discovers after a family tragedy that there’s more to the letters and his brother’s story than he’s been told.  Suraj Sharma and Tony Revolori co-star. Screens April 7, 9:30 pm Beeba Boys Academy Award nominee Deepa Mehta’s film—based loosely on the Indo-Canadian gangs that were prevalent in the 1990s—follows ringleader Jeet Jahar as his gang spars with other Indo-Canadian/Asian gangs and dodges the police. Jahar’s "Beeba" (good) boys face challenges brought on by rival gangs, as well as police, against a cultural backdrop as yet unexplored in the gangster film genre. Screens April 8, 7pm Parched Leena Yadav’s latest film centers around four women in Gujarat who all deal with the complexities of patriarchal oppression in different ways. From a teen bride forced into an unhappy marria

5 touristy LA spots that your out-of-town friends (and you) will actually enjoy

5 touristy LA spots that your out-of-town friends (and you) will actually enjoy

It’s finally happening, your friends are flying in to visit! Whether you’re a native or a transplant, we’ve all experienced that moment that occurs after the excitement of getting to see your pals wears off and you think, “Where am I going to take them?” The obvious standouts are, well, obvious. No one wants to spend days trudging through crowds of tourists, even if those tourists are our best friends. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. So skip Hollywood Boulevard, Disneyland and the Santa Monica Pier, here are five quintessentially LA places that are perfect to visit with your out-of-town friends. 1. Venice  Venice is the LA tour guide’s best friend. Park by Abbot Kinney and you’ll be within walking distance of shops, amazing food and the beach. (Your friends are probably used to walking, and you can suck it up for one afternoon.)  Grab pizza at Gjelina and then head down to the beach to watch the skateboarders do their thing. 2. Grand Central Market  There’s no better time to brave the line at Eggslut than when you’re hosting out-of-town guests. If eggs aren’t their thing, they’re bound to find something that calls out to them. Go for lunch and then walk down to the Ace Hotel for an afternoon cocktail and a great view of Downtown. 3. The Griffith Observatory  Even if you don’t actually go inside the observatory, this one is a must-see. It arguably has the best view of the city, plus it’s close enough to have brunch at Alcove and poke through Loz Feliz staples like Skylight Boo

5 traditional New Year's Eve foods to help bring in a lucky 2016

5 traditional New Year's Eve foods to help bring in a lucky 2016

New Year’s may be the end of a long holiday season, but that’s no reason to skimp on the food. While we’re all for New Year’s Eve parties and New Year’s resolutions, there’s really no better way to welcome the next 365 days than with a food coma. Here are five foods traditionally eaten to celebrate the new year, best enjoyed while hanging your 2016 calendar and watching the Rose Parade. 1. Mochi Celebrating the new year by pounding rice into mochi is a Japanese tradition, but you can order yours from the experts if you want to take it easy. The Kito family has been making mochi at Fugetsu-Do in Little Tokyo since 1903, just be sure you order in advance! 2. Bacalao In Mexico, once the clock strikes midnight you make a wish for the year and then quickly eat 12 grapes before the bells stop chiming. If you manage to wolf them down in time, the superstition says your wish will come true. The grapes are an important part of a Mexican New Year, but the bacalao is the star. This salted codfish is the traditional main course served to welcome in the New Year. Start off 2016 with a Bacalao torta from Cook’s Tortas to keep the tradition alive. 3. Black-eyed peas In the States, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a Southern tradition. The superstition states you should eat a pea for each day of the coming year to ensure luck, but if you can’t make it all the way to 365 you’ll have as many lucky days as you can eat. Head to Tart for your black-eyed pea fix. Tart, 115 S Fairfax Ave

3 ways to stay motivated throughout National Novel Writing Month

3 ways to stay motivated throughout National Novel Writing Month

November is a month of challenges, from No-Shave November to the much more difficult and rewarding NaNoWriMo (no offense to the beard lovers out there). National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is the 30 days when writers across the globe sit down to finally write that book they've been thinking about for ages. Participation is free and the only requirement is that you hit 50,000 words in the month of November. If you're in the midst of writing the next great American novel and are about at the point where you're wondering what you've gotten yourself into, here are three ways to help keep yourself focused until you hit those 50,000 words. 1. Get support: A great way to stay on track is by having people to hold you accountable, so if you don’t have any friends that are doing NaNoWriMo with you, now’s the time to make some. There are writing groups all over the city full of people meeting up to churn out pages together. The LA Central Library in Downtown LA is hosting a workshop every Monday night in November, and there are plenty of other local groups just waiting for you to join. 2. Seek out professionals to stay inspired: If you’re hitting a wall, get inspiration by listening to some published authors speak. Book signings offer the perfect opportunity to hear excerpts from recently published works, and most of the time there’s a Q&A so you can grill authors on their writing process. Book Soup, Vroman's and Skylight Books all have killer lineups that'll inspire and guide y

3 steps for making your own altar for Dia de Los Muertos

3 steps for making your own altar for Dia de Los Muertos

Feliz Dia de Los Muertos! The holiday is coming up on November 1, and chances are that even if you’re unsure what it's all about, you’ve at least seen sugar skulls decorating the city, and sometimes inked onto the city’s inhabitants. Here’s a breakdown to help prep you for the holiday by helping you make your very own ofrenda—an altar that is a huge part of the festivities. Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday focused on remembering and celebrating deceased loved ones by building an ofrenda that you construct to welcome their spirit. Decorate the table with pictures and any other elements you can find that will reflect the essence of the person you’re honoring. For example, if your abuelo loved Arizona Iced Tea & Sudoku, leave a place for those on the altar. While most of the things you include will probably have some personal significance, below are a few standard items that are traditionally included in each altar. 1. Marigolds No ofrenda is complete without marigolds. The use of the flower for the dead dates back to the Aztecs, who believed the flower's color and scent would attract the spirits. One place to get the freshest marigolds in town is the Los Angeles Flower Market. 2. Papel picado These paper banners are traditionally cut with images of skulls, skeletons and flowers to mark the occasion, and their bright colors are also meant to help draw spirits in. To pick up some of your own, head to Olvera Street. And while you’re there, don’t forget to stock up

5 thoughts everyone has when moving to a new neighborhood

5 thoughts everyone has when moving to a new neighborhood

So after endless sifting through apartment listings, you’ve finally latched onto an apartment and find yourself in a new neighborhood. Now what? Don’t worry, we’re here to walk you through the stages of moving to a new neighborhood. 1. “What have I done?” Moving to a new neighborhood always sounds exciting until the part where you have to actually move. As you’re circling your apartment wondering where all this stuff came from, the actual move can feel overwhelming. 2. ”How do I get to _____ from here?” Unless you’re extremely side-street savvy, a new neighborhood means being lost for a good month. And it doesn’t help when Waze takes you on a different route to work everyday. 3. “How am I supposed to park my car here?” If you’re lucky enough to rent a place in LA with a parking space included, the chances of getting in and out of it will be a delicate art. You’ll get the hang of it eventually, but you’ll have to add 10 extra minutes to your commute for the first few weeks. And don’t expect any of your friends to come visit you because the street parking around your apartment probably sucks. 4. “Can we walk there?” LA may be known for being unwalkable but it’s just not true. There are always little gems in walking distance and, hey, the less you have to move your car the better. 5. “Honey, I’m home.” Pretty soon you’ll be whirling around your new neighborhood with pride. When you first catch yourself complaining about all the hipsters moving in to the area, you’ll know you’re

4 ways to enhance your Shakesperience at Griffith Park

4 ways to enhance your Shakesperience at Griffith Park

From June 25 to August 30 at Griffith Park, the Independent Shakespeare Company will be performing Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing. And let's be real, anyone who’s tried dating in LA can relate to the star-crossed lovers theme. And all performances are free, unlike most of the dates you've been on recently. Something about sitting back and watching two soulmates die tragically onstage won't make you feel so bad about how disappointing your latest Tinder matches have been. Shows run every week from Thursday to Sunday at 7pm. Remember, they're free,so there's little excuse for not packing a picnic and heading out to the park to soak up some Elizabethan entertainment. For extra points, here are four ways to enhance your Shakesperience: 1. Pick out your favorite sonnets and read them aloud to each other while you wait for the show to start. 2. Work as many sex puns as you possibly can into the conversation (it’s what Shakespeare would have wanted). 3. Get into a heated debate with a couple on the blanket next to yours over whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote his plays. This is always enhanced with a few glasses of Pinot. 4. Rank your top five Romeo & Juliet adaptations. Baz Luhrmann’s version tops my list, but then again, I’ve got a soft spot for Nicolas Cage in Valley Girl. Check out all the cool things to do this summer in LA, including our full schedule of summer concerts.              

3 ways to celebrate the summer solstice

3 ways to celebrate the summer solstice

The summer solstice is this Sunday, marking the first official day of the season and the longest day of the year. Combine that with the fact that Mercury just turned direct after a month in retrograde, and there’s a lot to celebrate in the sky this weekend. Here's how to mark the occasion. 1. Griffith Observatory. Maybe the first place to turn to for any event involving celestial bodies, but especially on a solstice. There’ll be a free, day-long event on Sunday at the Observatory. At noon and 8pm, you’ll be able to see the sun’s shadow hit two markers on the actual Observatory, part of the building's thoughtful design.  2. Summer Solstice Party at the Hammer. Mostly a summer kick-off, this event is also promoting the two exhibitions that recently opened at the Hammer (that would be this photography exhibition and one with works by LA artist Mark Bradford). Use the extra minutes in the longest day of the year to explore the museum during extended hours, and break it down while KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole spins tracks.  3. Main Street Summer SOULstice Festival. If nothing else, summer on the Westside is all about two things: street fairs and hitting the beach. So, naturally, Santa Monica celebrates the solstice with this annual two-day event. Stroll around Main Street and catch live bands, and maybe pick up a cool find at a sidewalk sale.  What else says summer? An outdoor movie.

4 LA bars that will make you feel like you're in a time warp

4 LA bars that will make you feel like you're in a time warp

There isn't much that beats grabbing a tasty cocktail and feeling like you've been transported through place and time. Whether it's the nostalgia of childhood or just the fantasy of living in a bygone era, here are four LA bars that will have you questioning whether or not you actually fell through a wormhole. 1. Now Boarding. The 60s-style lounge atmosphere in this West Hollywood bar will take you back to a time when air travel was an event and not a chore. Celebrate the fact that you get to keep your shoes on while you sip on aviation-inspired cocktails, and don’t forget to finish your peanuts. 2. Good Times At Davey Wayne’s. To recapture the golden days of the 70s, the only stop is Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. Pass through the refrigerator door and leave the present day behind. The bar’s interior is set up like a 70s house party complete with a DJ station made out of a vintage TV set and alcoholic snow cones on the back patio. For a few dollars more, you can get your cocktail in a #1 Dad mug so you can always remember the good times. 3. Next Door Lounge. For a Prohibition-era speakeasy experience, check out Next Door Lounge. In true speakeasy fashion a password is required so don’t forget to make a reservation, and if you stop by on a Wednesday you can catch live jazz and whiskey tasting. 4. Break Room 86. One thing in LA is undeniable: the Houston brothers know their way around a theme. Their latest addition at the Line Hotel is an 80s karaoke bar. Order your drink out of

4 can't-miss shows at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

4 can't-miss shows at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

Summer in LA means outdoor movies galore. However, if you want to see a one-person show that takes you on an emotional journey involving Shakespeare and live music, you've got to turn to theater. The Hollywood Fringe Fest runs June 11-28, and this celebration of independent drama is just what you need to add a little culture in your life. With over 200 shows, narrowing it down can be hard, but here are four you should carve out some time to go check out over the next couple of weeks. 1. Assistants. If you aren’t an assistant, odds are you at least know someone who is, and you’ve heard the horror stories. What better way to express the frustration that comes with being degraded on the daily than through song? This musical follows four assistants as they try to soldier through paying their dues to work their way up the industry ladder. 2. Missed Connections. The missed connections section of Craigslist is practically found poetry on its own, but this show elevates it to drama. Using real “missed connections” off the site as jumping off points for monologues, the cast explores this weird corner of the challenging dating life in LA. 3. Shakespeare’s Last Night Out. No theater festival would be complete without a nod to the Bard. This one-person show imagines Shakespeare’s final hours as a wild night of drinking complete with a vision that future generations will doubt he wrote his plays. The rock musical that follows takes you down Shakespeare’s memory lane as he defends his work

4 LA flea markets you may not have heard of yet

4 LA flea markets you may not have heard of yet

Everyone knows the two quickest ways to boost your hipster cred are by having things no one else has and going places no one else has heard of yet. We’ve got you covered on both fronts with this list of under-the-radar flea markets sure to help you score some treasures while giving you the satisfaction of saying you shopped there before it was cool. 1. Odd Nights at the Autry. Be one of the first to check out this flea market launching Friday at the Autry—it may be the only market with a cocktail lounge. With food trucks and DJs, this could turn into your new monthly (every third Friday, to be exact) hang out. 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles 2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Flea. Located Downtown at the Regent Theater, this market’s main focus is on the music. The first Sunday of every month you can browse the racks for vintage records and instruments, and if you eat at Prufrock next door, your $2 admission is waived. 448 S. Main St, Los Angeles 3. Pasadena City College Flea Market. This market takes place every first Sunday of the month at Pasadena City College. It gets lost in the Rose Bowl Flea Market's shadow, which is exactly why you shouldn’t overlook it. Less popular means less crowded, and if you need any more convincing, this market is free. If you’re looking for housewares or vintage jewelry, this is the place for you. 1570 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena 4. POPUP Marketplace at LA Live. Today only, from 5pm to 10pm, LA Live is hosting a pop-up market full of crafts made by local

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