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Why We Love L.A. Summers: Vegan Eats And Cocktail Treats at Hollywood Bowl

(Photos by Krista Simmons/LAist)
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Summer has arrived, and we're ready to celebrate all that screams 'tis the season in Los Angeles. From sand to summit, from sips to snacks -- we love L.A. summers.

Some may mark the beginning of summer with the solstice, but for us, the season hasn't started until we make our first trip the Hollywood Bowl. The combination of world-class sound, outdoor scenery, warm summer breezes, and epic picnicking really do mark the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year in L.A.

Mastering the art of the Hollywood Bowl picnic basket is a very serious endeavor for some people -- the cutlery, screw cap wine bottles, and cheese plates thought out to the n'th degree. But if you're jetting to the Bowl on a Friday night after a long week at the office, it's nice to have the work done for you -- especially if you are going to be sitting in line at will call for an hour after lugging up the hill.

We were hosted by the Patina Restaurant Group to check out some of the new in-house options, including their oh-so-L.A. vegan picnic basket, made with all locally-sourced ingredients. The basket includes rosemary and balsamic marinated portabello mushroom steaks with a quinoa salad, sliced heirloom tomatoes with basil and balsamic vinaigrette, and fresh summer berries with raw dipping sugar. We also ordered up a gorgeous sashimi platter for the sake of research for the pescaterian set, which was complimented beautifully by Paul Sanguinetti of Rays & Stark Bar's three freshly minted soju cocktails. In order to get around the whole no-booze rule, he uses rice wine as the base. The strawberry basil version was our favorite, but the ginger mojito was delicious as well.

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We sipped our chilled cocktails while watching Frozen Planet, the third of the BBC's Planet series, which includes Blue Planet and the popular Planet Earth. The intense visuals of the Arctic and Antarctic were accompanied by the LA Philharmonic, who was conducted by BBC composer George Fenton. Fenton also gracefully narrated between sets, explaining each movement through the punishing yet beautiful landscapes. From the epic wonder and majesty of the Melt in Greenland to the fearsomely sacrificial orca hunts, Frozen Planet's footage was absolutely captivating. Amidst all of the chaos of modern living, the Planet series truly reminds city dwellers of the world's immanent beauty.

For the grand finale, the Bowl's iconic stage was surrounded by smoke and green lights, simulating aurora borealis, brining a the Northern Lights right here to L.A. With a city so robust in its entertainment and culinary offerings, we sometimes wonder why we ever leave.