Jennifer Lawrence to Turn Former BlackBook Writer’s Book Into a Movie

It seems like only yesterday that writer Claire Bidwell Smith and her husband, Greg Boose, who is also a writer, were among BlackBook‘s most prolific contributors, first covering dining and nightlife from their chilly home in Chicago, and later, doing that and more from the warmer climes of Los Angeles. All the while, though, Claire was working on a memoir entitled The Rules of Inheritance that was published last year. (Of course we covered it.) It’s a wonderful book that describes the agony she felt at losing both of her parents while she was still quite young, and the long process of finding herself in the years that followed. And of course it’s sad–my eyes welled up on the subway reading it more than once–but it’s also at times funny, fascinating, and uplifting. Apparently actor and producer Jennifer Lawrence liked it too, because she’s turning the book into a movie that’s she’s going to star in. As Claire. Yes, Jennifer Lawrence as Claire Bidwell Smith. That’s trippy just for me to wrap my head around, Claire must be like whoah

But Claire totally deserves it, and not only because of the pain she went through early in life. The book stands on its own merits, and I don’t think you need to share her loss to be touched by it, and her ultimate triumph over it. But more than that, she’s used the lessons she’s learned to help others as a grief and loss counselor, guiding people through the darkest hours of their lives not only with kindness, but with a wisdom far beyond her years. More than just speaking with people who’ve lost loved ones, she’s raced to the bedsides of hospice patients when their loved ones couldn’t make it in time to offer them some kindess and love before they breathe their last. I consider myself both loving and tough, but I wonder if I’d have the strength to do what she does. 

And so, a great book will be turned into what will no doubt be a great movie from an actor (and now producer) that everybody on the planet loves. People will watch the movie (hopefully they’ve already read the book) and be moved by it, and will probably be helped as well, if not with a loss they’ve suffered, then in preparing for a loss they’ll no doubt experience as life goes on. And it does. And it’s beautiful, and good, and sometimes it helps to be reminded of that. 

Chicken Fried Bacon & Venison Arrives in Culver City on Monday

Husband-wife duo Whitney Flood and Julie Retzlaff are taking a break from the underground dinner scene to open Muddy Leek, a seasonable and sustainable spot in Culver City where everything from the bread to the stock is made from scratch. Lunches here will be hearty and filling with a nice selection of sandwiches and salads, but the real draw here are the eclectic dinner options like the Spicy Chicken Jjigae Soup with kimchi and poached eggs, the Juniper-Venison with foraged mushrooms, and the Chicken Fried Bacon in a lettuce cup with tomato chutney. Opens Monday, Dec. 17th. 

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L.A. Openings: Eat Where Fatty Arbuckle Once Lived, Devour Berlin Street Sausages

Fatty’s Public House, on the edge of West Hollywood is named after silent-film actor Fatty Arbuckle, who once lived at this exact address. Now, the home is an airy pub with a big old-school "Hollywoodland" mural overhead, and they’re dishing out short-rib pizzas, Guinness bratwurst, burgers, and chicken and waffles. At brunch there’s a DIY Bloody Mary cart rolling around, and after a couple of those – if you squint hard enough up and down the street from the outdoor patio – you can still see old Hollywood just as it once was. But that’s just because you’ve accidentally internalized Instagram filters.

Just opened Downtown, Coco Laurent is a breezy, sun-lit French bistro serving beef Bourgogne, sandwiches, and an impressive by-the-glass red wine list. And Berlin Currywurst also just debuted in Hollywood with a beautiful beer garden and lots of sausages and beers.

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Donut Burgers? No Dishes Over 475 Calories? What’s Happening At These New L.A. Spots

If you’re one of those people who just won’t shut the hell up about how much you love bacon, no one likes you. Also, no one will believe your bacon-loving words if you haven’t already been pounding on the doors at Slater’s 50/50 in Pasadena that opened his past Friday. The “50/50” means that half of their signature burger is made of ground beef, and the other half is actual ground bacon – sandwiched right on top of the patty. Yep, they go there. This sports pub offers over 100 beers and fried chicken and pancakes. Plus, if you make it to Slater’s on a football Saturday, there’s an off-menu burger served on a donut. Pigs are flying.

Seasons 52 also just opened up in the Westfield Century City Mall, giving holiday shoppers enough freshness to keep their energy high all day, thanks to a menu full of locally-sourced ingredients, herbs grown on site, and no dish over 475 calories. We’re speechless. The end.

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Live Jazz, Pig’s Face, & Umami Take-Out Debuts in Los Angeles

Home is where the heart is supposed to be, but now in Beverly Hills, a place called H.O.M.E. (House of Music & Entertainment) is where the caviar-chive salmon, the sous vide berkshire pork chop with a pear brandy reduction, the live jazz, and your new favorite wine list is. This premiere live jazz/supper club spot just opened last week, giving those in the industry a new place to rub shoulders, sign on the dotted line, and lean back with some top-shelf scotch to enjoy the smooth stylings of musicians like Bill Cunliffe and Pet Escovedo.

Bestia, a charcuterie haven serving pig’s face and beef heart tartare, opens this Friday in the Art District, and just when you thought the Umami brand was spent and done, here comes U Mini, a tiny take-out version of everyone’s favorite burger joint.

Animal Fetishes at New Los Angeles Hotspots

Obama won. Weed won. Women won. Check and mate. Now, you’re either ready to celebrate, or you’re looking to inebriate. Might we suggest The Blind Donkey in Pasadena, the new whiskey haven, for either? From the guys behind The Surly Goat and The Little Bear (Animal fetish, anyone?), The Blind Donkey is a regal little place with brick, dark wood, and a chess board on every table. While you’re there drowning your sorrows or toasting your victory, order the triple-fried fries and consider signing up for the chess league.

Elsewhere, TLT Food has landed in Westwood, dishing out all the favorites they’ve been selling from their popular food truck, and Urban Garden opened its doors in the Fairfax District, warming the neighborhood with shawarma, lemon-herb rotisserie chicken, and some tasty vegan and veggie items.

Lady Gaga’s Favorite New L.A. Hotspot & More

Is it really possible that west-siders will crawl through three congested highways to Studio City just for a pretty restaurant/lounge? Maybe. Possibly. Well, probably not. But… XEN Lounge, an inviting and versatile space put together by actor/producer Duane Martin, has everything you want in a West Hollywood or Santa Monica lounge. There’s an elegant private dining room, a glitzy bar, flat screens dedicated to NFL Sunday, and three outdoor spaces that include an intimate rooftop lounge and a rustic backyard spot dominated by a giant Buddha statue. Even if the coast crowd may shy away (they shouldn’t), the stars have already come out in full force. Will Smith, Stevie Wonder, and Lady Gaga have been by for the specialty cocktails and new American comfort food, like the mac and cheese muffins.

Speaking of Lady Gaga, the designer of Sixty-Six, the Thursday- and-Saturday-night only nightclub that opened last week in West Hollywood, has designed videos for the mega pop star – and it shows. Mirrors and golden hues and centrally-located DJ booth, oh my. This is an after-midnight kind of place. And then in Santa Monica, raw-food god Matthew Kenney opens M.A.K.E., a rooftop restaurant promising nothing cooked over 105 degrees.

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Los Angeles Openings: Storefront, The Hart and The Hunter

Judging by the weather in LA this morning, fall is officially here, and so hearty, comfort food is on our minds. (Aside from the general election and Honey Boo Boo and Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman getting divorced.) In Hollywood, a small neighborhood deli called Storefront just opened, headed by the teams behind Covell and Salt’s Cure, and offering gourmet sandwiches and burgers replete with Salt’s Cure’s infamous bacon. You want a coffee? Great. They serve it black. You want any other coffee drink? Not an option.

Inside the Melrose District’s Palihotel, The Hart and The Hunter has arrived with classic Southern small plates like boiled peanuts, chicken cracklings & hot pepper vinegar, and assorted pickles. But if you’re really hungry, they have a bunch of potted provisions, like ham hock rillette, collard green marmalade, and bay shrimp salad. Eat too much and you can just check in for the night next door.

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Los Angeles Openings: Coffee + Food, The Phoenix, PizzaRev

One doesn’t normally boast about Australian food; it’s usually a boring blend of ‘80s American and British dishes that include a lot of ‘chips,’ and other overpriced menu items. But here’s one thing about Oz: their coffee is twice as good as that organic swill you’re French-pressing every morning. They always use espresso beans, and they use them well. At the new Coffee + Food over on Melrose, stop in for a flat white or a long black or just a cappuccino, and you’ll really feel what the buzz is all about. As for the ‘+ Food’ part, there’s a nice selection of paninis, salads, pastries, and more.

The rustic and game-friendly Phoenix bar rose in Beverly Hills a bit ago, offering old fashioneds, sazeracs, craft beer, and one food item: steak frites and salad.

And in Studio City, PizzaRev brings a Chipotle-style ‘build-your-own’ food to artisan pizza. No matter the amount of toppings, it’ll be under $8.

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