There isn’t much that can get me out of bed at 6:15 in the morning, but there I was driving the family to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on its opening weekend.
The special 7 a.m. screening was actually the setting for a birthday party for a friend of Xander’s; when the parents opened it up to the families of the invited guests, the force was with me to get up to experience the hype of this blockbuster (and the movie did not disappoint – harkening back to the elements that made the first three Star Wars movies so good, the film also mixes in solid new characters).
Xander sat with his pajama-clad friends as I kicked back with the unlikely combination of popcorn and coffee (I recommend it!) When the movie ended, everyone moved into a private room across from the theater for, what else?, a Star Wars birthday cake.
Later that afternoon I starred in my own sequel: Star Wars: The Force Naps!
Immediately after checking in via tablet at the entrance to MINIUSA’s downtown L.A. HQs and grabbing a smokey whiskey cocktail from Greenbar Craft Distillery (made from hand-pressed organic produce), I knew we were in for a unique gathering introducing the new Clubman series to an invitation-only crowd.
Inside, it was a salute to local craftsmanship; with a jazz ensemble providing a soundtrack at the far end of the space, guests visited a mix of L.A.-based artisans’ exhibits, including Graf + Lantz and Chocovivo. Irene did a chocolate tasting at the latter and had monogrammed leather luggage tags made at the former that she picked up at the end of the event. Meanwhile, I sampled beers from Eagle Rock Brewery and browsed some furniture made from repurposed/reclaimed materials by Fort Goods.
“This is an event about sharing not just what we make but why we make it, about being inspired and passing it on. A Mini isn’t just made, it’s crafted,” said an event promo.
Indeed, the “Mini Reinvented” event was a story about craftsmanship, “not a story told by a brand to its consumers but one told by a community to its members,” as the promo went on to say. “It’s about turning a day of work into a work of art.”
After about an hour of mingling and sampling a variety of circulated hors d’oeuvres, we moved to the showroom, where the Clubman was unveiled. Irene posed a few options-related queries to one of the Mini reps and a few moments later I spotted her looking a little too comfortable behind the wheel of a sporty Mini Cooper convertible.
The line wrapped around the block — two hours worth — to get in to see the pop-up Seinfeld replica sets that were on display for five days last week in West Hollywood (wonder if the wait was that long to get a mulligatawny from the Soup Nazi?!). Oh well, at least I was able to pull up in front long enough for Irene to snap these pics ‘o the week!
This is what you would call one of your quaint neighborhood gems. Located in Downtown El Segundo, Deluca Trattoria served up excellent Italian food while my colleague Brian Simon played covers on the piano during one of his ongoing Saturday night gigs.
The kiddies felt like VIPs from the moment we were shown to our table with the “Reserved” sign on it to our Shirley Temple and Sangiovese toast that kicked off the meal. Kids’ pasta dishes were great (and why wouldn’t they be? Pasta is right in the restaurant’s web address: delucapasta.com) – pesto/pine nut for Xander and meatballs and spaghetti for Troy and Athena. I ordered the Frutti de Mare pizza that had big helpings of scallops, calamari and grilled shrimp. Awesome (mom was at a school fundraiser). But I was only able to eat half of it after going with an off-menu app that Brian had recommended called Pizza Bones – a homemade breadstick bursting with garlic and parmesan served with a terrific, slightly spicy tomato sauce for dipping.
For dessert, we shared the Cannoli Alla Taormina – those mini rolled pastries stuffed with ricotta, dark chocolate and orange-peel cream.
Authentic Italian doesn’t get any better than this, especially with Brian’s live music complementing in the background with crowd pleasers from Coldplay, U2, Joe Jackson and more…