What to do in LA this Memorial Day Weekend

Ahhh, long weekends. They’re few and far between but once they come around it’s time to enjoy. Lucky for us Angelenos that we have a pretty good selection of things to do.

In case you haven’t heard, the annual HOLA MEXICO Film Fest is going on this weekend. It’s been a success for 3 years now, and you practically couldn’t get a ticket for last night’s opening night film since it was totally sold out. But if you’re in the mood for good cine en español, then head over to the Ricardo Montalbán theater in Hollywood this weekend and catch a great movie. There’s documentaries, feature films and even shorts. I have a couple of pelis I want to check out myself.  This year the theme is “ADIOS CLICHES” so there’s a great selection of movies to see.

Click HERE for the schedule and full list of movies. The fest runs till Wednesday May 30th.

On the other hand, if you’re a TRANSFORMERS fan, then surely you must be happy summer is here. The long awaited “Transformers The Ride 3D” is opening this weekend at Universal Studios Hollywood. This new attraction is a  big deal in this town, which thrives on family entertainment, so if you’re planning to go, then go early and prepare to get in line. Click here for more details and be ready to shell out the wallet, especialmente si llevan a la family.

The Transformers Ride in 3D opens this weekend at Universal Studios.

If you’re in the mood for going out, there’s a new restaurant in West Hollywood that opened recently, and I have it on good authority that it’s a great place for “Mexican inspired” food and Margaritas.

It’s called “Tortilla Republic Grill and Tequileria” (el nombre no me encanta, pero que se puede esperar de estos gringos que son wannabes paisanos) and it’s a cool spot in the heart of West Hollywood.

It’s not a typical nor authentic Mexican-Mexican food place, but rather a very fresa spot en donde seguramente you can people-watch all “the beautiful people.” Maybe I’ll check it out, ya saben como me gustan los paparrazi shots. Plus  they have “Jalapeño Margaritas” on the menu and serve Herradura Tequila, so I’m definitely intrigued. Click here for pictures and menus of the place.

Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend, and again, if you drink, please don’t drive.

Tortilla Republic is located on Robertson Blvd. in West Hollywood. Photo from their website tortillarepublic.com

What to do this weekend in LA:

Spring is in bloom and here we are already in the second weekend of May. Ayer festejamos a las Mamás mexicanas y el domingo May 13 we do it again para las Mamás in the US. Did you already get you Mom a nice gift? I hope you did!

But there are other things to include into your weekend festivities if you live in LA.

The Lea-LA Book Fair (La Feria del Libro en Español)  opens today at the Convention Center in DTLA, organized by la Universidad de Guadalajara. It’s a 3 day event that promises interesting book selections and purchases, and a number of author presentations and conferences. Click here for the complete program and go support la lectura en español. It is a free event for the entire family, lleven a los niños y compren libros en español, para que se vayan acostumbrando.  Goes on from Friday May 11 to Sunday May 13, 10 am to 6 pm.

Lea LA starts Friday May 11 and goes on til Sunday May 13, from 10 am to 6 pm. Don’t miss it.

Another big event this Saturday is the annual Revlon Run-Walk at the USC Campus in LA. It’s a major fundraising event for the fight against breast cancer. I’ll be participating in this walk with Team Macy’s, which is a major sponsor of the event and always supports the cause with a big team of volunteers and walkers. If you know anyone who is going through cancer, and you want to support them, you may want to check out this link and see how you can get involved.

Revlon Run Walk is happening Saturday May 12 at the USC Campus. Join the fight against Breast Cancer at do.eifoundation.org

TGIF, Cinco de Mayo Fever, and a Super Moon

Oh yeah, it’s Friday. This weekend couldn’t come soon enough. For all of you who haven’t noticed, today is “Star Wars Day” which gives you a chance to say the now famous tag line “May the Fourth Be With You.”

But mañana, ah mañana nos da a todos los ex-pats mexicanos living in the US a chance to appreciate the one Mexican Holiday that gringous love and cherish, the annual “let’s drink till we crawl” Margarita infused celebration that has become “Cincou de Mayouu”.

Let’s be honest, people here don’t know, and frankly don’t care, that this historic celebration commemorates La Batalla de Puebla. It was 150 years ago in the beautiful state of Puebla, México, when the Mexicanos defeated and outmaneuvered a los franceses who had invaded the land of ours. So Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that observes a historical and mathematical coup in México, one that always makes us proud. (Never mind that a few days later los franceses got their act together and came back for more desmadre and fighting… but that’s another story.)

Pero si quisieramos celebrar como Dios manda, we should not just drink Margaritas, but enjoy the typical Poblano dishes, like Mole Poblano, Chalupas, Chiles en Nogada and other delicacies. If only we had a “Fonda de Santa Clara” restaurant in LA. I haven’t found one yet, so I’m gonna have to stick to the Margaritas.

If you feel adventurous, and if you’re not driving this weekend, may I suggest a recipe I found on Bonappetit.com. I think it’s a good twist on the original, and it sounds really good. Click on the photo for the recipe. BUT PLEASE DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.

Click on the image to get the recipe from bonappetit.com

Also, not to be missed this weekend, is the annual appearance of the “Super Moon,” which is basically the largest size the moon appears all year and the closest it gets to the Earth. (Just don’t get too close, Luna)…And it’s gonna happen on Saturday as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

“For reasons still unknown to science, the moon appears much larger and more magnificent when it is near the horizon than when it is soaring overhead, despite the fact that the moon’s size never actually changes.” (Click here to go to the article by space.com)

Image from Space.com

Just be careful of all the lunáticos * (you know who they are) who get extra moody, sensitive or weirder “cuando la luna se pone regrandota,  como una pelotota y alumbra el callejón…”

For a musical rendition of this fabulous line, check out “El Gato Viudo” on the link. Gracias Chava Flores!

Rosca de Reyes time. ¿Qué les trajeron los Reyes Magos?

La tradición del Día de Reyes (or The feast of the Epiphany if you’re a Catholic and know the story about the “magi from the east” following the star and traveling to pay homage to Baby Jesus) is alive and well in Los Angeles. This year it falls on the first Friday of the month so it’s bound to be celebrated en grande.

If you still don’t have your Rosca de Reyes purchased, and if you’re in the downtown LA area on Friday, may I recommend a panadería right smack in the middle of the Grand Central Market? It’s called La Adelita and they still have a few Roscas available. They range in price from 7 to 20 dollars, depending on the size. They can also add as many monitos as you want, but you have to special order it. Standard roscas come with 2 monitos only, but waiting to see who gets the monito is what the fun is all about, so knock yourself out. ¡Pónganles muchos! I say the more, the merrier.

(Yes, you probably know this, but anyone who gets a monito needs to organize a party on February 2nd, el Dia de la Candelaria… preferably with Tamales and champurrado. Rarely anybody follows through, but we just want to believe we can keep the parties going.)

If you're in Downtown LA on el Dia de Reyes and you need a Rosca, head over to La Adelita panaderia inside the Grand Central Market on Broadway. They open from 9am to 6pm.

This is the $7 dollar Rosca with 2 monitos included. But I say add more!

While you're at it, you may want to shop around Grand Central Market. It's a great place to browse and take pix. It's also one of the locations used for the movie "City of Angels" (way back in the 90's.)

Coca Cola Mexicana Rules! And now you can get it at Costco.

Shopping for the Holidays at Costco yet? Me di un quick trip this past weekend and lo and behold- que se me atraviesa un pallet de Coca Cola Mexicana, made in Mexico, in the original glass bottles de medio litro, with a big “Hecho en Mexico” stamp on the box.

¿Qué tal? Now this is the REAL THING of the real thing, you know what I mean?

Yo creo que ha de haber bastantes fans (adictos) al sabor super dulce de la Mexican version because once you sell wholesale across the border and once you’re in Costco, then you must be in demand! Apparently they are considered a gourmet/connoisseur version of regular Coke. But us mexicanos, we already knew that.

For the die hard Mexican Coca Cola fans, la Coca Cola mexicana is now sold at Costco, by the case, for 16.99. Go out and get some.

La había visto por otros lados en la ciudad, en Bottega Louie de downtown y en el M Market on Holly, en Pasadena. Pero ahi las venden individuales.

So now you know, should you need your fix. Seems like now you CAN have a Coca Cola and a smile.

A few ideas for your “Día de los Muertos” party and outfit

¿Como que hay un boom de Halloween este año, verdad?  But in LA we do it DOUBLE con la fiesta de “Día de Los Muertos”.

It’s amazing how people in LA embrace and celebrate both Halloween and Día de los Muertos back to back, and you don’t even have to be Mexican or Hispanic to appreciate this. Cada vez hay más fans de esta fiesta que celebra la vida después de la muerte, and there’s no better place to witness this than the annual Self Help Graphics Día de los Muertos event. It will be held in Boyle Heights this year, on Nov. 2, and they’ve got a cool procession starting from Union Station (Gold Line) at 4 pm and Mariachi Station at 5pm. (Check the link for more details.) The event is free! But you have to get a metro ticket.

I had a chance to go 2 years ago and it was fabulous. It’s a grand scale event with families, artists, music, local vendors, tamales, champurrado, churros and la vendedora de frutas all rolled into one great night. I blogged about it then (you can read it by clicking here) and  was so impressed with the way this traditional fiesta mexicana crossed the border and became such a big event, it was súper concurrido. It captures the spirit of the celebration in México, where it’s a happy occasion, a true celebration of all our loved ones “que se nos adelantaron” y que están en el afterlife muy contentos y en paz.

So these pictures below are from the photo vault from 2009. Maybe some of you calaca aficionados would like to see them again, in case you need any ideas for your altar or for your disfraz. There’s still time to get one.

¡Feliz Día de Muertos amiguitos!

Altar de familia, con flores de cempasuchil, la tradicional flor que se usa para adornar el altar de muertos.
Estas veladoras están padres para decorar en estas fechas.
Ahi viene la Calaca Ranchera. I’d be scared if I ran into this guy!
Calaca face painting at Self Help Graphics event (2009) was a popular theme.
Colorful calaca magnets on sale at the event.
Las gringuitas también se vistieron de Catrinas. ¡Muy bien!
Louis XV inspired calacas.
Very creative! “His and Her” calaca skeletons.
Little trastecitos de calacas with a Mexican Revolution twist.
Isn’t it interesting how something as dreary as death is exalted to become a happy occasion? Aqui la calaca se pone guapa con mucho glitter.

They’re calling it “Carmageddon” in LA and I’m getting the heck out of town!

If you live in Los Angeles then you know the price we pay for enjoying wonderful La La Land: Traffic. All.The.Time.

So it should be no suprise to anyone that the 405 freeway closure next weekend (July 16 and 17) will be a mess for the westside. (Pronostican que se va a hacer un desmadre.)

For over a month we’ve been hearing the warnings, but now that it’s almost here, you can sense people are really really worried about this. So heads up! If you live in the area, stay home. If you are planning on traveling by car that weekend, change you plans, and if you’re flying out of LAX, just plan to sleep at a hotel nearby. No se confíen amiguitos, this 405 closure sounds really scary. Por algo le están diciendo el “Carmageddon” en todos lados.

We’ve heard that Metro LA  enlisted Lady Gaga to tweet about it, so she can remind us. And they also asked Poncharello himself, the original CHiP, Erik Estrada to do a PSA (public service announcement) in English AND in Spanish.

Here’s the Spanish version from youtube. (Todavía no se le quita lo “pocho”. Lo digo con cariño, that’s the original pocho accent we grew up with.)

So avoid driving, do your grocery shopping in advance and prepare to stay home. Hey, what a novel idea!