Jeannine’s Lets Kids Eat Free in February

Jeannine’s Gourmet Food Hall invites kids to eat free with an adult during the whole month of February!

jeannine's signPhoto from Jeannine’s website

Since Jeannine’s opened in The Shoppes at Westlake last year, I’ve been there a handful of times – for coffee, lunch meetings, even cocktails with my girlfriends. But I must say I didn’t consider bringing my kids there because it seemed like kind of an upscale-casual place to me. The bright dining room with its translucent chairs, a bottle of wine on every table, and even the cozy booths, the joint feels fancy.

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But I’ve been doing my kids a disservice, then, because they too like the fancier things sometimes. And as we discovered, Jeannine’s isn’t too fancy for them, in fact, it’s just right.

During the month of February kids 12 and under eat free from the kids’ menu if they dine with an adult who pays for an entreé. The meals are only $6.50 each, but that savings can go towards the purchase of a tasty cocktail.

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The Black and Basil, basically a blackberry margarita. Delicious.

My children sampled a few items from the kids’ menu, and Mom and Dad had to taste everything, too! Consensus: the homemade chicken tenders are not to miss! They have a crispy homemade batter with tender juicy chicken inside. Served with ketchup and ranch, this normally comes with fries or fruit cup but we added mac & cheese because wherever we go we have to try the mac & cheese.

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Jeannine’s kids’ mac & cheese is a kid-friendly version of the dish for adults: a three-cheese sauce with delicious pasta, but without the breadcrumb topping or the bacon. My kids both loved it.

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As for the adult entreés, you really can’t go wrong here. Jeannine’s offers a daily updated menu and there’s something for everyone. On this evening we had the salmon and a tri-tip salad served with onion ring slivers in a tangy dressing. Both were delicious.

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But what about the fries? I knew you were going to ask that, so we did our duty as storytellers and shared an order of fresh made fries.

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Served piping hot in a bucket with plenty of salt, these definitely passed the “But are the fries good?” test. Jeannine’s also has  tasty sweet potato fries on the menu if you’re into that sort of thing (which I am).

If you haven’t been to Jeannine’s yet, this month is the time to go – kids eat free all month long, and this is good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Be sure to check out the lighted, animated fountain across the way after your meal. My kids enjoyed watching it and running around after dinner!

Jeannine’s Gourmet Food Hall
30770 Russell Ranch Rd.
Westlake Village, CA 91362

My family enjoyed a complimentary meal at Jeannine’s. All opinions are ours.

Guilty Pleasure: UnReal, the Fake Reality Show

UnReal Season One comes out on DVD (plus Digital HD) on January 26.03139823232280_z_unredclu
A very long time ago, before reality TV was called “unscripted,” before story producers tried to join the WGA to get the same respect from Hollywood as the rest of Hollywood, before it was a genre that got any respect at all, I met a reality TV producer at a party. At the time I was a young video producer, making the behind-the-scenes looks into films that you now see as bonus features on DVD’s and YouTube. I hated reality TV.

I asked her “How long do you think this fad will last?”

She laughed, even though I wasn’t kidding. “Forever, I hope. I need to pay my rent.”

The joke, obviously, was on me because that’s how I eventually paid my own rent. I have never enjoyed watching reality TV as most people think of it: dating shows and real housewives and Kardashians don’t interest me in the least. But on the few rarely-watched shows that I produced in some capacity, I was happy to take a paycheck, even if it meant working grueling days and overnights and dreaming in Avid tracks.

UnReal is a scripted series – let’s make that distinction very clear – that dramatizes the lives of the crew and cast involved in making a hit reality show. I was hooked after the first episode’s opening scene.

In a busy control room at the “Bachelor”-like mansion that is the set of the fake reality show “Everlasting,” the executive producer barks orders, the AD’s repeat her, the crew spins into action, and thus a new season of America’s favorite dating competition begins. Meanwhile, all the side-eye and wisecracking of the crew is the focus here, and that’s a world I lived in for not very long, but long enough that someone yelling “Speed!” makes me shut right up so I don’t ruin the take.

Now that reality TV is so entrenched in our culture, and thousands and thousands of shows have been produced since its beginnings, enough people have worked on, are working on, or know someone who is working on or has worked on a reality show that there’s a nice target audience built right in for UnReal. But the storytelling is strong and melodramatic enough that the series can be entertaining for any watcher, even those far removed from the weird subculture-within-a-subculture that is reality TV, or if you’re being precious about it, “unscripted.”

There are love triangles, cattiness, first-class manipulation, lack of sleep and meals of potato chips, diet soda, and booze. There are also story lines about mental illness and suicide, eating disorders, race, feminism, mortality, and unwanted sexual advances. Naturally. No show I ever worked on was as dramatic, but who wants to watch a true-to-life drama about producers locked into little rooms watching 36 hours of footage to find one  nugget of action that will make it on air? The truth is boring. UnReal is not.

The stars of UnReal are Rachel and Quinn, a field producer and her seasoned boss, who manipulate each other as hard as they work the contestants on their reality show. The best scenes in the entire first season include the ones in which Quinn coaxes the super-bitch out of Rachel, who still has enough of a conscience to make her the show’s relatable hero. “I need my dragon well-rested,” Quinn tells Rachel, as she takes her off the clock and sends her to bed.

There’s plenty of sex and partying, but I couldn’t help wondering how Rachel and other crew members managed to get in the mood, exhausted and stinking as they must have felt after back-to-back 16-hour days.

I guess it’s youth. And also, it’s not real. That’s what makes UnReal so delicious.

UnReal
Season One
DVD – $26.98 from Lionsgate
January 26

Random Delightful Gift: the Toddy Wedge

Here’s a random product that I tried out this fall that I have been meaning to share with you: the Toddy Wedge.

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It’s just a little bean-bag filled triangle thingy that you can use to prop up your phone. There’s no charger or anything like that, and it’s soft and squishy. You can use it as a hacky sack, which my kids have done.

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All it does is prop up your phone. While that might seem simple, it is, but it makes a huge difference when I am using the phone to display a recipe as I cook, or to play music or podcasts while I am sitting at my desk.

The Toddy Wedge has these advertised features:

Support for your iPhone, E-Reader, GPS or gaming devices without removing the case
100% microfiber for wiping screens clear of smudges and fingerprints
Dual-sided: Plush side to clean and silky side to polish screens

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No need for messy liquids or sprays that can harm your screen
Antimicrobial coating, preventing the build up of mold and mildew
Washable, air dry
Proudly Made in the USA

It’s only $14.99 plus about $4 shipping (for First Class mail) and the website takes PayPal. I unexpectedly love mine – anyone who receives a Wedge as a gift will likely do the same.

I received a free Wedge to facilitate this feature.