Los Angeles is the Entertainment Capital of the World

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One of the great things about Los Angeles is that you never know when you’re going to literally encounter or find fantastic entertainment.

On any given day, also, there’s a plethora of creative things to do, go and to see.

For example, on Wednesday, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and on Friday, I could have gone to a Andy Warhol Exhibit at the USC campus, or to rocking with Britney Spears at the Staples Center.

For instance, the day I was at MacArthur Park, I got to check out an exciting scene of Dennis Haysbert shooting his way out of a tricky situation, during a film shoot of The Unit.

A few days ago, I was downtown taking some pictures for an upcoming article, when I decided to do a little exploring.

As I was walking on Figueroa Street, I suddenly heard music—the exciting mellow drawl of a proper drum downbeat, along with funky bass played along with an eclectic and electric piano.

Of course, I stumbled upon live Jazz.

The kind of music which lures and begs you to sit down, listen, and be entertained.

Following my ears, I entered the 7+Fig.

As I approached, I had no idea what this place was, however, the first thing I discovered was a local farmer’s market.

In the heart of the city, lining one street block was several farmers, who were selling their wares to the local lunch crowd. Fruits and vegetables of all kinds were available, and lots of people were carrying bags of goodies to take home.

The strawberries looked great, and as I was rather hungry, I bought a basket and proceeded to continue my mission, to find the source of the music.

I didn’t have to go too far because right around the corner from the Farmer’s Market was an escalator beckoning me to the sound.

From there, I found an open air food court with live lunch time music.

So I made my way down for a closer look, grabbed a nice table to sit and enjoy my strawberries, plus listen to the band.

Then I leaned back, and let the music do its work. Although, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the jazz lunch entertainment, I think I was the only one that had a camera.

The percussionist is Mr. Phil Beale. He’s not only a drummer, but also an instructor, arranger, and clinician.

The group’s keyboardist is, Mr. Edell Shepherd, who is also a producer and arranger.

Surrounded by the iconic forms of the city, but in a world all its own–with 3 floors of shops, restaurants, and several other businesses–7+Fig is a great place for a relaxing lunch away from the office, right on the corner of 7th and Figueroa.

When Travelin’ Local, where do you like to go for lunch? A quiet café?

Here, in the Entertainment Capital of the world, I can listen to some cool jazz, finish my workday, and head home all within a few hours of time.

Just another day in paradise, what else can I say, expect for my next story!

Valentine’s Day at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market – Part II

As I wrote in yesterday’s blog entry, I’m a big fan of fresh fruits and veggies. Over the years, I tried to get my kids interested in eating them, too, and for the most part, I succeeded.

One way I was able to accomplish this feat was to take them to pick-your-own farms. Living on the East Coast, the season is a little limited, but we managed to find blueberries, apples, strawberries, cherries, and even a few raspberries.

Picking our own was cheaper, but more importantly, by the time we left the farms or orchards, the kids didn’t need any lunch because their stomachs were full of the food we were picking. We’d take our bounty home, and then we’d sometimes freeze it, make pies, or keep it in the basement for as long as possible before spoilage. Often times though, we gave much of it away so it wouldn’t go to waste.

There isn’t anything like the taste of freshly picked food. Even during winter time, we are fortunate here in Southern California, we can patronize the luscious, bountiful, and select harvest of often enough local produce and other foods.

The fresh taste of apples, which still have the leaves attached to the stem, evoke and stir memories of past ventures and wonderful other times I had at other Farmer’s Markets on the other side of the coast.

Here’s a close up view of some of the various food items that were available at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market:

If you enjoy sweet potatoes—especially if you know how to cook a sweet potato pie, there was a stunning display of vegetables for purchase. Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, C, B6 and beta carotene.

This was the first time I had seen purple potatoes, so my need to conquer my curiosity was satiated—I went, I found, and I learned more about them.

Potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and iron; however, colored varieties may contain additional antioxidants.

The oranges on top of the crates were to die for. They were fresh, sweet, and juicy. I bought a bag full and brought them home. I’ll definitely be returning for some more in a couple of weeks. Plus, who can beat the vitamin C in oranges, especially during the flu season?

As I’ll be starting my own herb garden soon this picture from the Farmer’s Market was prescient. There isn’t anything like the taste of fresh herbs added to a rice dish, chicken dish, soup, or pasta.

One more important tidbit about herbs is that they add flavor without adding any calories. So, if you’re interested in adding to the flavors of your next pasta or rice dish, try adding a few herbs instead of butter or oil. You’ll love the taste and your heart will thank you. Here are a few ideas for you to try: Herb & Spice Chart.

Having an indoor garden is possible all year round. If you need or want some help in growing one, this is a good resource to use: How to grow an indoor herb garden.

Its part science, part art, and all fun, when you’re Travelin’ Local to find those neighborhoods to augment and add to your culinary and food palate.

Today was one of those days. Until next time, Bon Appétit.

Valentine’s Day at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

I’m pretty sure not everyone spent their Valentine’s Day at the local farmer’s market, but for me, it was perfect since I’ve wanted to go to this market for a long, long time, and Saturday was the day.

By closing two city blocks on Arizona between 2nd and 4th, vendors from all over Southern California are able to provide the best of their organic fruits and vegetables, range-free bison, fish, honey, fresh flowers, and so much more.

All of the Santa Monica Farmer’s Markets are Certified Farmer’s Markets (CFM), established in 1978, when then-governor Jerry Brown signed legislation known as the Direct Marketing Act, enabling California farmers to sell their own produce directly to consumers at locations designated by the Department of Agriculture.

Currently there are three criteria for CFM’s:

1. They must consist of farmers who possess a current Certified Producer’s Certificate issued to them by their county’s agricultural commissioner.

2. They must be non-profit entities, sponsored by the farmers themselves, a non-profit organization or a municipality

3. All produce and products sold at a California Farmer’s market must be grown or made in California.

These simple guidelines help to ensure that CFMs continue to exist for the benefit of the communities they serve.

Currently, there are over 300 Certified Farmer’s Markets in California.

Looking over the array of food available, I saw varieties of food I’d never seen from purple potatoes to free range eggs to the freshest tasting oranges I’ve eaten.

Today, I was one of the estimated 900,000 visitors the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market receives every year. One of the inherent benefits of living in Southern California is that produce is grown all year round.

The beauty of a farmer’s market is that the food is local, thereby keeping the money spent local, which also lessens its carbon footprint. Currently food travels an average of 1500 miles before it reaches your table. Try this carbon footprint calculator to see how much you and your family contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions. Mine is just average, but I do try to limit my driving, and I buy local whenever I can.

Because I’m going out of town in a few days, I didn’t purchase too much; just a few oranges, apples, and honey. I love fresh honey in my tea. Next time I go, I’ll have a total menu planned so I’ll then be able to share the recipes and dishes with you. I love cooking, especially veggies.

Speaking of veggies, I took some great pictures of the fruits and veggies at the market, but there are too many for this post, so tomorrow, I’ll put up more pictures from my Valentine’s Day at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, including the myriad of fresh fruits.

How did you spend your Valentine’s Day? With the many sights, sounds, and unique places to spend with your friends, family, and loved ones, it’s fun and easier on the wallet to find the hidden treasures in your hometown.