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Hardcore foodies revere May because it is National Hamburger Month, but most Americans zero in on Mother’s Day, the second Sunday of the month, when we honor our mothers and, more broadly, those who “mother.” MOTHER AND CHILD is writer-director Rodrigo Garcia and executive producer (and Venice resident) Alejandro González Iñárritu’s three-pronged tale of adoption and its effects on Karen (Annette Bening), who surrendered but can never forget the baby she bore as a teenager; Elizabeth (Naomi Watts), an adoptee whose ability to form meaningful relationships is blocked by a need to confront the mother who gave her up; and Lucy (Kerry Washington), an infertile woman who finds fulfillment in mothering another woman’s child. Stories like this are too often cloying and melodramatic but here the mother-daughter relationship touches your heart without wringing it out to dry. A real life mother-daughter relationship that touched my heart over the years was the one between Venice publisher/ editor Nancy Bishop and her beloved mom. In the last few years, as her mother clung to life, Nancy clung to her, flying to Washington to be with her at a moment’s notice. The grief that follows such a profound loss is a measure of the magnitude of the special relationship they shared. Here’s to all women who are mothering, whether or not they are mothers. Following are ways to honor them, each in its own special way.

Treat the mom who likes an all-out blowout to the Mother’s Day Package (deluxe accommodations and $100 food and beverage credit toward brunch or tea, valid May 7-9) at THE LANGHAM HUNTINGTON, PASADENA (1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave.; 626-568-3900). The Chef de Cuisine is Michael Voltaggio, winner of season six of Bravo’s Top Chef. His artfully-inspired Modern American cuisine includes Pacific Yellowtail with soy-watermelon, sea sponge and fresh wasabi; Rougie Foie Gras with grapefruit- campari puree, parsnip and soy caramel; and Pastrami Pigeon with rye infused jus, brussels-kraut and puffed gruyere cheese. Brunch will be served on The Terrace and in The Huntington Ballroom. On this and other Sundays, “Passionately Pink” Chocolate Afternoon Tea is served in the Lobby Lounge from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and a portion of proceeds go to The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation funding breast cancer research. If you can’t treat mom to Chuan Spa in the art deco grandeur of The Langham, Yangtze Boutique hotel in Shanghai, China, take her to the new CHUAN SPA (626-585-6414) at the Langham Pasadena, the only luxury hotel spa in Los Angeles offering treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. A practitioner from Huntington Memorial Hospital offers treatments for Jet Lag; Smoking Cessation; Food Cravings; Stress Reduction; and Neck or Lower Back Tension. After determining which of mom’s five essential elements (metal, wood, fire, water, earth) are out of balance, an expert will relax her with a breathing ritual and use essential oils, incense, and teas to bring her into harmony. Book an appointment online for massages, scrubs and wraps, hand and foot therapies, suction cups, moxibustion, or a Chuan Man or Chuan Escapes package and get 25% off a second treatment through June, 30, 2010. Hmmm, that’s long enough to take care of Father’s Day, too!

Traveling mammas don’t have to be Italian to join Maria Battaglia’s October 16-24, 2010 SALONE DEL GUSTO TOUR to Northern Italy. A worldwide collaborative of farmers, chefs, and culinary craftspeople meet every two years to work toward preserving the essence of what we eat, where it comes from, and how it is made. Shake the hands of the farmer whose pigs become Parma hams and the cheese maker who makes Parmesan cheese. Taste exceptional wines, go truffle hunting, visit Acqui Terme Spa, ancient castles and quaint villages, and travel through some of the most beautiful wine country in the world. Torino is elegant and sophisticated, with stately palazzos, beautiful shops, and miles of arcades. Maria is delightful and knowledgeable and takes no more than 14 people on her tours so sign up early. This is one trip you and your stomach will never forget. LA CUCINA ITALIANA,; 312-671- 3341; . And, yes, she’s a mom.

So your mom likes to cook but a food tour would break your budget? Get her a copy of DAMGOODSWEET: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel (Taunton Press, $25.00). In his first cookbook, which was nominated for James Beard Foundation and International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) awards, it is clear that this Washington, D.C. chef may have left his native New Orleans but not the sweet Southern traditions he grew up with. His recipes go from beignets and bread pudding to fried apple pies and red velvet cake. He introduces each chapter and many of his lipsmacking recipes with the personal stories and historical anecdotes that inspired his dishes. For a very special treat, you could take Mom to see culinary icon FERGUS HENDERSON of St. John Restaurant in London ( ) teach the art of “nose to tail eating” that made him famous. It takes place on Saturday, May 15 — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at CIUDAD (445 S. Figueroa St.; 213-486-5171; www.ciudadla. com ), when he joins the “Too Hot Tamales” Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger in cooking, conversation, and a unique dining experience ($95 demo-style cooking class includes a multi-course lunch, as well as cocktails and a recipe booklet). Health-minded moms may want to try an instant breakfast cereal, Chia Goodness ( Nutrition expert Joy Bauer extolled the virtues of the chia seed on “The Today Show” and predicted that we’ll be hearing more and more about this unsung superfood in the next few years. Bauer says chia is more nutritious than flax seed and it combines with foods from oatmeal, cereals, and cottage cheese to baked goods, turkey burgers, and meatballs, all without altering the taste of the original food. Plus, it’s packed with Omega 3 (more than a serving of salmon).

If you prefer thin-crusted New York pizza but your mom would rather have a thickcrusted deep dish Chicago pie, what do you do? Head over to N.Y. & C. PIZZA (1120 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, www.nyandcpizza. com ), where one side of the cheery storefront resto is done up with Big Apple posters, photos, and such, while the other touts the delights of Chicago. The owners, Adam Milstein, Philip Boyd, Robyn Landrum, and Chris Shanley, are also partners in South, a Westside bar that serves Hurricane drinks and ‘gator wings. Here the menu runs to garlic knots, buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks, house or Caesar salad, cold subs, spaghetti with meatballs or sausage, and chicken parmesan. The New York menu offers hot subs, calzone, “nanutz’ (grandpa’s) salad, pizza, and lykozolo (chicken cutlet, pepperoni, and provolone cheese), and n.y. cheesecake. The Chicago side features L Train antipasto, hot subs, a chi town double dog (the classic smothered in cheese), stromboli (similar to calzone), and deep dish chocolate cookie with vanilla ice cream. Most items are under $10 and portions are generous. Beer and wine and, get this, they’re open till 4 a.m., which makes this a perfect choice for insomniac moms.

Take the mom who can’t make up her mind to the buffet brunch at BREEZE (Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, 2025 Avenue of the Stars; 310-551-3334), where there’s indoor and outdoor patio seating, complimentary mimosas, locally sourced food and cakes, house-made pies, “inspirational” cobbler, the hotel’s famous bread pudding, pastries, and more. All Moms are eligible to win a special prize. A buffet for children (four and younger eat free) features: Scrambled Eggs; Pancakes with Maple Syrup; French Fries; Crispy Chicken Nuggets and Macaroni and Cheese.

Moms who take comfort in the familiar have been coming to Agostino Sciandri’s CAFFÈ ROMA (350 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills; 310-274-7834) for 25 years, when they’re not going to his Ago, Sortino, or Toscanova. International model, Fabio, still eats there, as do laid back local celebs and neighborhood regulars. A recent makeover added a front bar with Murano chandeliers, patterned wallpaper and comfy chairs, plus tables on the side and front patios. It’s a sprawling space, and nearly always full. There is extra virgin olive oil on every table, and the kitchen uses aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, salted anchovies, and balsamic vinegar from Modena. Mom will like the generous salumi plate with prosciutto, mortadella and salami, raw artichoke salad with shaved Parmigiano, spinach and ricotta ravioli, or rigatoni with eggplant and ricotta in tomato sauce. Favorite pizza is the one with rapini, cheese, and sausage. Lamb chops, veal Milanese topped with arugula, and pollo al mattone (cooked under a brick) with golden cubes of potato are other good options. So is happy hour, from 3 to 8 p.m., when many items are just $5. On Mondays and Tuesdays there is jazz and Wednesday through Saturday there’s a live DJ.

Even after Mother’s Day, adventurous moms can rejoice! New York has adopted our gourmet food truck trend and now we are latching on to their fondness for street foods with our own VENDY AWARDS, a fundraiser cook-off featuring our best street eats. Voting is closed but you can watch the top contenders battle it out on Saturday, May 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. at MacArthur Park in Westlake. Tickets ($50) include booze and all-you-can-eat. Proceeds support the movement for vendors’ rights in L.A. The judges, who will evaluate dishes based on their flavor, portability, and personality, include Evan Kleiman, owner and executive chef of Angeli Caffe, cookbook author, and host of Good Food on KCRW; Javier Cabral, the “Teenage Glutster,” who started blogging at the age of 15 and is currently studying culinary arts; Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, award-winning owner/chefs of Animal Restaurant; and Bill Esparaza, founder of Street Gourmet LA, the only local blog that focuses on Latin American and other ethnic street cuisine. A professional musician, Bill performs all over the world, especially in Latin America and he knows as much about Latin food as he does about Latin music.

Some moms need help, and you can help them at any time by logging on to ART AIDS ART’S online store,, which is loaded with South African glass beadwork, artisan jewelry, and wearable art. Latest arrival: bangle bracelets made from PVC piping. Not only do these items make ideal gifts for mothers, but most of them are made by mothers, too, which means that when you make a purchase, you provide a mother with income that helps her feed her family and send her children to school. In other words, each transaction is doubly meaningful.

Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Venice Magazine! ▼


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