Waiting for Grace: Looking for Love at the Odyssey

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Above, actress and writer Sharon Sharth.

In the late ’70s, Joni Mitchell sang in the transcendent Hejira, “I know, no one’s going to show me everything/We all come and go unknown/Each so deep and superficial/ Between the forceps and the stone.”

 

In some inchoate but poignant way Sharon Sharth’s semi-autobiographical play, Waiting for Grace, reminded me of that song. While the play is often brilliantly funny, it’s also moving; the search for love and marriage by a no-longer-young, yet still attractive actress is both personal and universal, filled with longing and delight, despair and hope.

Directed by Lee Costello, the play is essentially a one-woman show, albeit ably supported by a brilliant cast playing various roles as Grace’s boyfriends, therapists, and parents.

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The plot is simple: Grace (Sharth herself, a burning spark both searing and sexy) long focused on her career, now wants marriage and motherhood, but cannot find a man able to provide her with a ring or a child. Some are too clingy, some angry, some distant – all are played by the chameleon Jeff LeBeau. Therapist, parents, and relationship counselor all come into play trying to advise her, until at last she meets “the one,” David (Todd Babcock).

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Her dream man isn’t perfect either, and in fact, until the last moments, the audience is never sure that even David will prove worthy of Grace’s somewhat neurotic love.

The play is warm and affectionate overall, with acerbic and bittersweet asides. The weakest link is when Grace tries to have a child with David, but that’s a quibble. The script is sharp, witty, powerful, and brave.

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Sharth takes on the pain of looking for love (in all the wrong places and with all the wrong guys), aging, feminism, the meaning of marriage — and comes up with the only conclusion that can possible be reached: waiting for grace isn’t easy, but in the end, she/it can be found.

Quoting Mitchell again, “I’m traveling in some vehicle/I’m sitting in some cafe/ A defector from the petty wars/Until love sucks me back that way.”

Running through December 11th, don’t miss the chance to find Grace.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: courtesy of the Odyssey

 

Mardi de Veuve Alexis: Abstraction as Perfection

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According to abstract artist Mardi de Veuve Alexis, her art “often evolves from an emotional response I have to current events and the human condition.” Using patterns and texture in works of mixed media and collage, Alexis creates intricately layered themes and palettes that burst with shape; as tactile as they are transformational.

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Born and raised in California, Alexis studied art and design at UCLA, and has been painting for more than a decade. Exhibiting and traveling internationally, she’s found “the freedom to express without judgment or boundaries. Thoughts and ideas spill out on canvas, panel, or paper as drawings, layered patterns, shapes, colors and textures that are merged, transformed and energized with paint, papers, mylar and other elements.”

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Her work is often a study in contrasts. Witness her recent “After the Earthquake,” a mixed media collage in which houses, boats, and humans float in delicate drawings riven by thick black and brown sinewy lines. Thinner lines that look like a tangle of electric wires also emerge from the contrast of curved and harsh shapes. While everything is askew, it is also transformed, there is a grace in the chaos.

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Such peace in the middle of change appears often in Alexis’ work. Her “Santa Fe Cool” is an example. It uses more pastel shades and plays like visual jazz, blossoming from patterns of pale lime green, pink, and a splash of bright magenta. Curves that could be human forms, thin black lines, and above all else, a vibrating energy reminds the viewer of puzzle pieces coalescing. However, the predominant feeling is one of serenity in the midst of change.

“I love working with contrasting as well as complementary textures and patterns by combining various materials in my work, both organic and man-made,” Alexis says. “ Irregular lines and remnants of ripped paper or newsprint, fabric, tree bark and the coarse hairs of a palm tree become exciting designs and focal points – their beauty recast. Even those irregular globular shapes from thickly dried acrylic have become abstract elements on their own accord.”

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Her “Cocoon” looks like a butterfly about to explode its boundaries. Bright aqua, amber, and a rich black divide what could be stained glass, feathers or butterfly wings, something about to ripen, about to be birthed. There is the tension of waiting, of a happening, of a precipice about to be crossed, but again there is a sense of stillness.

“I’m inspired by nature and diverse cultures. Human emotion, expressions of joy, sadness and despair capture my attention and are often revealed in my work,” Alexis explains.

The artist’s current works are created on canvas, panel, and paper, with collage elements adding an extra layer of depth and exploration to her images.

One of the most interesting aspects of Alexis’ work is a feeling of vibration emanating from them. As already mentioned, some remind the viewer of visualized jazz, or of the calm and craziness of giving birth, gestation, tumult and transcendence.

Working with acrylic, charcoal and mixed media, Alexis defines her work in shapes, lines, patterns, and palette.

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Feel the hum of power and persistence in “Pecking Order,” in which a bird with a red wing on the right of the work is poised before a jungle of black, aqua, and red. Within that jungle are forms that could be the clenched fingers of a human hand, a portal to another dimension, an open window, a closing door. These abstract shapes pull the eye from the otherwise dominant bird into the void, into a promise of meaning. Is the bird trying to get in, to get out, to crack the shell that contains existence itself?

Many of Alexis’ works incorporate animal or human shapes, almost totemic figures; there’s a swirl inside of which an unseen meaning spins, circling in and out of the viewer’s vision, something magical and captured almost at the edge of understanding.

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The shapes are more defined and geometric in Alexis’ “Behind the Scenes,” where circles, triangles, and squares float through what could be a world inside our own world in this acrylic and collage work on wood panel.

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“My new body of work is inspired by an evolving local urban environment, urbanization as a condition, and contemporary culture,” Alexis says. “There is the noise and energy of new construction. Resulting structures are rising vertically to unexpected new heights, marginalizing once amply sun lit creative spaces. Graffiti of all shapes and sizes most often depicted on the grey backdrop of concrete has become rampant as an exciting urban art form communicating an evolving cultural diversity. This is change and evolution, disturbing and exciting at the same time.”

Disturbing and exciting could also describe the artist’s own work. See for yourself: viewers are compelled to study, assess, and in the end simply succumb to the inchoate pull of Alexis’ art.

MAS Attack Grand Finale

Art. The final frontier, perhaps,  for beauty, joy, and in this case, SoCal style.
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Catherine Ruane with her incredibly detailed graphite work – natural subject, ethereal execution.
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Snezana Saraswati Petrovic – that’s 3D printing as sculpture.
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Gay Summer Shadow Rick with a lovely and quintessential LA beach scene.mas-47
Annie Clavell with her light filled work.
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Francisco Alvarado captures the spirit of these times.
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The delicious scent of lemon oil, below in a delightfully experimental piece by Elizabeth Stringer.
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Aline Mare with a piece the pulls viewers into a dramatic universe that fuses painting and photography.
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Monica Wyatt with a found-art sculpture that dances with energy.
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Karrie Ross with the glitter of gold, a treasure of a painting.
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Kristine Schomaker offers riveting rainbows and ribbons of paint – and powerful feminist metaphor.
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Below, Bibi Davidson with her “red girl,” as distinctive as the artist herself.
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Photographer Hector Felix in action, documenting the scene.
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Below, Dwora Fried with one of her fluid, fascinating assemblages.
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Below, Mike Mollett, sometimes known as one of Los Angeles’ performance art Mudpeople, with his better half, Dee.
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Below, the rich color palette of Kristine Augustyne.
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Above, a close look at Dwora Fried’s box, politically potent. Below, the vibrant neon art of Linda Sue Price.
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Below, the finely detailed art of Jodi Bonassi, who often depicts the warmth of the art community in LA.
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In January 2013, Max Presneill, Kio Griffith, Colton Stenke, put together the first MAS attack, a mutual appreciation society for artists. The idea was for artists to hang their own work, spend time at the event meeting other artists and art lovers, make art, show it, and support it.

The final such event was held last Saturday night at the Torrance Art Museum, where Presneill is curator.  An amazing art jumble of sculpture, performance (signed ping pong balls shot from a tube, anyone), paintings, photography, mixed media – a pure wow, as exhilarating as it was encompassing.

Below, artists Shelly Heffler, Dwora Fried, and the author.
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So many artists, so many highlights – and a spirit of fun and friendship that glowed throughout the museum. If you weren’t there, you should’ve been; if you don’t know these artists, get to know them now. And if you love LA art and artists, then support art, talk about it, attend openings, buy it, photograph it, openly adore it.
As an aside, if you love this blog, if you’ve ever been written about by this blog, if you’ve ever enjoyed the art, travel, food and more in this blog, then follow us! Not just on Facebook but follow us here. You’ll receive updates when new posts are made, and that is it. And it helps us thrive and survive when you add to our follow list. 
Art is on fire in Los Angeles these days, and here’s to MAS attack for being one of the delightful tinders that set the blaze going. Take a look at some of the fine flames that joined in the grand finale last Saturday night.

Contributors included:

Aaron Giesel
Alanna Marcelletti
Albert Lopez Jr
Alec Dawson
Alessandor Rachael
Aline Mare
Alison Woods
Ally Bortolazzo
Amanda Mears
Amy Fox
Andrea Bersaglieri
Andrew Foster
Andy Moses
Anise Stevens
Ann Diener
Ann Phong
Ann Weber
Anna Leighton
Annie Clavel
Annie Seaton
Antoine Guilbaud
April Bey
Arezoo Bharthania
Ashley Bravin
Becca Shewmake
Ben Jackal
Ben Zask
Betsy Enzensberger
Bibi Davidson
Bill Brewer
Bob Branaman
Brian Thomas Jones
Bryan Ida
Cameron McIntyre
Campbell Laird
Carl Shubs
Carla Danes
Caroline Peters
Carolle-Shelley Abrams
Catherine Kimball Davis
Catherine Ruane
Cathleen Abalos
Cathy Lightfoot
Cathy Weiss
Chenhung Chen
Cherie Benner Davis
Chris Barnickel
Chris Danes
Chris McBurnley
Chris Mercier
Chris Pate
Chris Shelby
Christina Shurts
Christopher Chinn
Cia Foreman
Cindy Jackson
Claudia Morales McCain
Cole James
Colin Cook
Colton Stenke
Conchi Sanford
Corrie Gregory
Cory Sewelson
Crystal Fischetti
Curtis Stage
Cynthia Lujan
Cynthia Minet
Dakota Noot
Dan Callis
Dani Dodge
Daniel Leighton
Daniela Campins
David D’Andrade
David DiMichele
David French
David Glickman
David Leapman
David Michael Lee
David Spanbock
Dawn Arrowsmith
Dawn Quinones
Debby & Larry Kline
Debe Arlook
Denise Kraemer
Dia Bassett
Diane Nebolon Silver
Diane Pirie Cockerill
Diane Williams
Diego Gutierrez Monterrubio
Dosshaus
Doug Wichert
Douglas Alvarez
Dwora Fried
Ed Gomez
Ed Moses
Elena Johnson
Elizabeth Dorbad
Elizabeth Folk
Elizabeth Medina
Elizabeth Stringer
Elizabeth Valdez
Ellen Dieter
Ellen Riingen
Emily Maddigan
Eva Hyam
Faina Kumpan
Farzan Sabet
Feng Ling
Francisco Alvarado
Frederika Roeder
Gabriel Garcia
Gary Brewer
Gavin Bunner
Gay Summer Sadow Rick
George Garcia
George Joaquim
Georgette Buckley
Gloria Plascencia
Grant Redwine
Greg Rose
Greg Schenk
Gretchen Batcheller
Gretchen Rollins
Gul Cagin
Hagop Najarian
Helen Chung
Holly Jerger
Hung Viet Nguyen
Ian Pines
Isabel Rojas-Williams
Ismael de Anda III
Jackie Bell Johnson
James Galindo
James Goodwin
Jane Liu
Jane Szabo
Jason Ramos
Jeanne Dunn
Jennifer Gunlock
Jenny Hager
Jerrin Wagstaff
Jesse Standlea
Jessica Bley
Jessica Newman
Jill Sykes
Jodi Bonassi
Joe O’Neill
Joe Wolek
Joel Robert-Elton Woodard
John Geary
John Sollom
Jon Flack
Jon Measures
Jonathan Ryan
Jorge Mujica
Josephine Lipuma
Josh Hagler
Josh Velasquez
Juan Gomez
Julie Orr
Juri Koll
Justin Smith
Karrie Ross
Kate Sikorski
Kathi Flood
Katie Kirk
Kathleen Kane-Murrell
Kathleen Melian
Katya Usvitsky
Keariene Muizz
Kenny McBride
Kerry Kugelman
Khang Bao Nguyen
Kim Garcia
Kim Kei
Kimber Berry
Kimberly Hahn
Kimberly Rowe
Kio Griffith
Krisitine Schomaker
Krista Dawn
Krista Marlene
Kristin Frost
Kristine Augustyn
L Aviva Diamond
Lan Duong
Lara Jo Regan
Larry Gipe
Laura Catherine Soto
Laurel Paley
Lauren Michele Kasmer
Lavialle Campbell
Leah C Dixon
Leland Paxton
Lena Moross
Lena Wolek
Leslie Doyle
Lexi Aquilina
Lidia Shadow
Linda Sue Price
Linsey Gosper
Lisa Hoffner
Lisa Pederson
Loren Phillips
Lori Pond
Lorraine Heitzman
Luigia Gio Martelloni
Luke Van Hook
Lynn E Coleman
Maja Ruznic
Malka Nedivi
Manny Karkowski
Mara Colecchia
Marjan Hormozi
Mark Dutcher
Marlene Picard
Martin Durazo
Matthew Owen Driggs
Matthew Sweeny
Maurya Coleman
Max Presneill
Mayen Alcentara
Megan Frances Abrahams
Mei Xian Qui
Mela Marsh
Melissa Walter
Michael Bizon
Michael Chock
Michael Falzone
Michael Giancristiano
Michael McCall
Michael Neumann
Michele Castagnetti
Michele Wood Page
Mike McCarthy
Mike McLain
Mike Mollett
Mike Street
Mike Vegas
Monica Wyatt
Nadege Monchera Baer
Naira Hart
Nancy Buchanan
Nano Rubio
Narsiso Martinez
Natasha June Dee
Natasha Shoro
Nick Agid
Nick Ives
Nick Mansfield
Nikki Lewis
Noel Madrid
Nurit Avesar
Omar Gallegos
Pat Gainor
Patricia Mitchell
Patrick Rees
Peggy Sivert Zask
Perry Marks
Peta Orbach
Phil Amrhein
Phillip Griswold
Rachel Kastor
Rachel Stiff
Ray Beldner
Rema Ghuloum
Renee Tanner
Ric Heitzman
Richard Gilles
RJ Ward
Robert Miller
Robert Soffian
Rod Baer
Roland Reiss
Ron Linden
Ron Therrio
Ronald Price
Roni Feldman
Rouzanna Berberian
Samuelle Richardson
Sandy Abrams
Sant Khalsa
Sarah Tell
Sarajo Frieden
Scott Teson
Scott Trimble
Sean Michael Gallagher
Sean Noyce
Serena Potter
Sergio Teran
Seth Lower
Sharon Bell
Sharon Suhovy
Shell Silverio
Shelley Heffler
Shingo Francis
Shiri Mordechay
Sijia Chen
Siobhan McClure
Snezana Saraswati Petrovic
Sonja Schenk
Sophia Tise
Sovanchanreaksmeay Sorn
Stacie Jaye
Steph Sydney
Stephanie Meredith
Stephanie Sherwood
Stephen Rowe
Steve Seleska
Steven Fujimoto
Steven Seemayer
Steven Wolkoff
Susan Amorde
Susan Feldman Tucker
Susan Kurland
Susan Lizotte
Susan Poms Amorde
Suzanne Budd
Suzanne Fontaine
Tania Jazz Alverez
Tanya Batura
Tanya Haden
Terri Berman
Terry Lenihan
Theodore Svenningsen
Todd Carpenter
Tom Dunn
Tom Lasley
Tom Savage
Tony Pinto
Tracey Weiss
Trina Turturic
Trine Churchill
Ty Pownall
Tyler Waxman
Valerie Wilcox
Veda B Kaya
Virginia Katz
Wakana Kimura
Wini Brewer
Yoko Kanayama
Yokoyama Miki
Yoshimi Hayashi
Yvette Gellis
Zachry Horn
Zeina Baltagi

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Above artist Catherine Ruane with artist Tracey Weiss, who is wearing her piece – a wrap made from recycled Perrier bottles. Scratchy yes, stunning, that too.
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Above, Sonja Schenk’s evocative icy cliff; below Cia Foreman with her shiny green leaves.
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Above, photographic artist Jane Szabo with a fascinating change of pace for her in terms of subject matter; below Megan Abrahams with a hopeful green sprout.
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A complimentary couple: above Daniel Leighton, below Ana Leighton with their smart and beautiful works.
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South Bay Contemporary gallerist, curator, and artist – Peggy Silvert Zask with her ceramic horse, below.
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Above, Australian artist and curator Tom Dunn; below glass bricks with ashes – a part of a large installation by the always exciting, always cutting edge, poetic Dani Dodge.
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Above the woven wires of brilliantly enigmatic artist Chenhung Chen; below Steven Wolkoff showing all the girls his perfect paint etching.
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Above artists and BLAM and Durden and Ray alums, Dani Dodge, Steven Wolkoff, and Tom Dunn. Below Siobhan McClure makes the color pink a force to be reckoned with.
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Above, crazy prolific and wonderfully impressionistic story telling art by Scott Trimble; below Alanna Marcellitti shines.
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Goofing around, artists Loren Phillips and Hung Viet Nguyen claim each others work as their own.
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Below, the jeweled, mosaic-like work of Hung Viet Nguyen with Phillips vast floaty blue behind him.
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Below: artists just want to have fun.
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Above, the gouged wood wall reliefs of Michael Giancristiano; below- wild colors in Luigia Gia Martelloni’s piece.
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Above, Susan Amorde with her arrow-attacked suitcase sculpture, lethally wonderful. Below a serious moment of farewell from MAS attack founders. mas-31 mas-34
Above a close up of Hung Viet Nguyen’s work; below the jubilant work of artist Susan Lizotte.
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Above, the performance art of Debby and Larry Kline ping pongs through the crowd.
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Above, artist Jenny Hager sets the canvas ablaze – just as MAS attack sparked the flame of artists creating community.
It was a farewell, it was an amazing group show and it was fun – the final MAS Attack exhibition at Torrance Art Museum was a terrific swan song.
 – Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis

Rock N’ Roll Vegetarian

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The high energy atmosphere of the Hard Rock Cafe outpost at Hollywood and Highland has a lot to recommend it: great drinks, a realistic wax Elton John on loan from Mme. Tussaud’s Wax Museum next door, and a buzzy scene – particularly on Halloween weekend – of birthday celebrants, families, tourists, and hipsters slightly out of their element. Add a friendly, fun staff, and now, a tasty vegetarian menu, and you might just want to rock out here more often.

In October, the chain tested a limited-time veg menu for National Vegetarian Month. In the LA area, the Hollywood Hard Rock is offering a tweaked version of the same menu to stay. In short: you no longer have to dine on just fries and onion rings here if you’re not a carnivore.

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Our favorite item was the you-can’t-eat-just-one Cauliflower Wings, fried and fabulous breaded cauliflower that stands in very well indeed for conventional buffalo chicken wings. A close second: Ratatouille Flatbread, a crispy flatbread topped with grilled tomato, onions, zucchini, and eggplant, some romano and mozzarella, and garlic aioli.

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Vegans have an option too, an aromatic Fennel, Beet & Orange Salad, with plenty of nice, thick fennel curls, roasted beets, orange, mint, cilantro, and spring greens in a nicely tart lime and cumin vinaigrette. Mint and fennel are a nice match.

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The breaded cauliflower burger is a nice variation on a traditional veggie burger. Taking up a juicy position on a Brioche bun, you’ll find the patty itself to be a mix of well spiced cauliflower, egg, goat cheese,and garlic topped with Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aoli. And you can still have those Hard Rock fries as your side.

An additional salad – Pico de Callo Quinoa Arugula Salad features shaved brussel sprouts, spicy pecans, and Feta cheese. A larger portion of the ratatouille veggies that grace the flatbread are present in a Grilled Ratatouille Wrap dressed with Siracha mayo on a tortilla.

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All these tasty dishes go quite well indeed with the drinks menu, which is extensive.  For those eschewing alcohol, there’s the Wascally Wabbit, a mix of carrot, apple, and orange juice with ginger and Orgeat. The Very Veggie ‘Tini might please James Bond, a nice blend of cucumber, red onion, mint and lime juice shaken with Greek yogurt and Tito’s Vodka. Our favorites were the fresh-fruit drinks that come in their own collectible Mason jars. You turn in your glass and take a receipt to the gift shop emerging with a boxed excuse to try these drinks at home. Pineapple, mango, and apple versions with a variety of top flight alcohol components from tequila to rye whiskey are available. My personal favorites: the  Blackberry Bramble made with fresh muddled blackberries, gin, peach puree, homemade lemonade and raspberry liqueur.; and the wonderfully fresh pineapple and rum.

And how can you beat the heady din and sense of fun at Hard Rock? We were there Halloween weekend, when costumed mermaids and super heroes sat at adjoining tables and the music was of course, nonstop. Fun to join the party with plenty of tasty veg items to munch and carefully curated craft cocktails to drink.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke

 

So, veg diners, keep on rockin’ in the free world – Hard Rock definitely rocks out with fun, tasty, vegetarian fare.

The menu is currently available in the Los Angeles area at Hard Rock Hollywood, located right on the Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. Park in the Hollywood and Highland complex.