Thursday, April 30, 2009
If you want to see show while you're there, this same code applies to discounts at both the Cirque du Soleil shows Love and "O" for 25-40% off certain dates and seats. I checked some dates in late August for the ""O" show and I could still get front row wet seat tickets, so book now if you want a great deal on both your stay and a show.
It may get hot in the summer in Vegas, but some of the coolest deals are found at the oasis of water shows in the dessert.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
If you want to sit down and have lunch, they serve an array of wonderful quiches, Panini, and sandwiches, from the classic French baguette with French ham, butter and cornichons (French pickles), to the exotic Austrian, made with Landbrot (Austrian bread), breaded organic chicken, Dijon, cranberry sauce and tomatoes. All the lunches are between $6-$8 and even if you want to add a nice dessert and coffee, you will still get change back on your $20.
They make desserts for every taste and occasion, including the hard to find Croque en Bouche ($55 for 50 puffs), made with little cream puffs filled with cream and topped with caramel, built into a pyramid, to a Mocca 3 Leches ($25 for an 8"), made with yellow cake separated with layers of Capuccino custard and mocca butter cream. All their cakes can be customized, so contact them for your special orders.
Their breakfast pastries come in both a mini ($1.15) and regular size ($2), so you can indulge a little or a lot, and they even offer a multigrain scone and an organic fiber muffin if you want to be "good". If you want to indulge just a bite, then have a espresso here and take home some of their buttery and tender handmade cookies.
I hold a Swiss passport, but I prefer going to Emil's to get a taste of Switzerland. Emil's sells special imported products, including yogurt, cheese, sausages, and ham, so it's like having a Swiss market in Los Angeles without having to sweat hiding my goodies from the Customs dogs.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I started this as my online Rolodex to share all my tips and finds with all my friends, and I never imagined it would reach so many people in so many places. Thanks to everyone who has read, everyone who has commented, and you're welcome to anyone who has used or learned something useful from what I have written. It has been a pleasure and I will continue writing as long as I find great deals, delicious restaurants, and inspiration (this translates to mean I will probably write forever).
In the traveling spirit this blog, I am flying to Miami today, so read about my new finds there in my upcoming posts:)
Monday, April 27, 2009
There is a range of everything from name brands like Tommy Bahama, to casual Gap clothing. Prices are in the medium range for consignment stores ($20-$50), but Sheri will negotiate with you on anything you love and must have at a lower price. She will even let you know when something in your style or size is due to come in to the store.
I have a shoe obsession, like most women, and saw some high end CFM heels that I loved but unfortunately they were a size 9 (like Carrie Bradshaw, my shoe addict alter ego, I wear a 7 ); Sheri told me to come back next week because she was expecting some size 7 heels during the week-end. Personalized information goes a long way to getting repeat business from loyal customers, and that kind of service is priceless.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Since Monterey Park is the center of good Chinese food in the Los Angeles vicinity, I figured anywhere I stopped should have at least decent, if not great food, so I literally drove straight off the Garfield exit and parked in the first strip mall parking lot lined with restaurants. There were four restaurants of various specialties and styles in this small center across the street from Hong Kong Market.
I chose Golden City Seafood because 1) it looked the cleanest 2) it had the most people, all of whom were Asian, and 3) they had live fish tanks with swimming fish, prawns, and lobsters. I liked it even better when I asked to see a menu in English and they smiled and handed me two (one with pictures). I am always impressed when Chinese places are friendly towards non Chinese speaking people; even though I do speak Cantonese, I never start off with it because I like to arrive "incognito" so that I can hear what they say about me and my white friends, without them knowing that I understand every word they say (I also do this in French restaurants for the same reason).
I am happy to report that the food was as good as the welcome. Everything from the house special lobster ($15) to the beef chow fun ($8) was flavorful and fresh. Even the side of tender greens was perfectly cooked to a bright green, with just enough seasoning to make it tasty. I saw nearby tables ordering everything from steamed oysters with ginger and green onion, to hot pots, fried rice dishes, and beautifully pink shrimp. I wish I could have tasted everything I saw, but it just means I'll have to go back with more people.
It was nice to get confirmation that my seventh sense, good restaurant divination, is still in good working order.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Come for a breakfast of customized omelets, or eggs florentine, made with an English muffin, spinach cream, and two poached eggs topped with Hollandaise sauce ($9.25), or try their French Toast, made with croissants ($5.75) or crepes with everything from plain Nutella ($5.50) to banana and strawberry ($7.50). They even have a special St Tropez Açaí bowl of Açaí with guarana, bananas, mixed berries and a splash of soy milk, topped with granola, almonds, banana slices and fresh strawberries($6.95) or maybe a vegetarian lunch sandwich with Swiss cheese, red onions, artichokes, roasted red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomato, lettuce and garlic aioli ($7.20) or a spinach salad topped with crumbled goat cheese, pears, caramelized pecans with raspberry vinaigrette ($9.25). Of course there are the classic Nicoise or Greek salads too, along with the classic ham and melted swiss on a croisssant ($8.50).
If you just want a pastry and a coffee or a nice cafe meal, this is definitely a better choice than the huge green coffee chain next door; the quality of both the coffee and the food shows that all chains are not equal when it comes to the most important meal of the day; isn't that every meal?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Chuao Chocolates are one of the few who responsibly source chocolate and then add their own unique flavors from Earl Grey to their spicy Maya signature flavor of dark chocolate infused with pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. They can be found in three San Diego locations and in Coral Gables, Florida, but if you don't live in any of those areas, they will also ship their chocolates to you.
If your favorite chocolate is hot chocolate, like Rue in Chocolat, then this is the place to get your choice of mixes, from the classic Abuela to the more exotic Maya dark hot chocolate mix with pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Want something special? They have a unique Firecracker dark chocolate bar with chipotle, salt and popping candy that literally pops in your mouth. How dark do you like yours? You can choose from 41-74% (health experts say the darker the better, but your taste buds will decide which is best for you). If you want to bake something with quality cocoa, they also sell baking chocolate, cookbooks and wine.
When you are ready to make your Earth Day meal, you might want to go to Nutrition Data to find all the details on everything you might want to eat or cook. Think of this site as the place to get your own personalized nutrition label for your recipes. You can put in the ingredients in your dish and they will calculate all the rest from the calories to the fat and the sugars. It's a great way to learn about the actual nutrition you are getting in everything you make.
Make this a great Earth Day by doing something good for Mother Earth, even if it is as simple as walking to an errand instead of driving to it.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
If everything does happen for a reason, then traffic is my friend, because I found a fabulous wine shop/restaurant in Encinitas, on historic Highway 101. The blackboard ad on the sidewalk announcing a winemaker dinner interested me enough to look over the menu, and when I saw that all entrees on Tuesday and Wednesdays are discounted 20%, I couldn't resist the temptation and walked in for dinner. I am so glad I did. The centerpiece of the room is a small wine store stocked with 350 bottles, all personally selected vintners and vintages from all over the world, from a French Pomeral to a boutique selection that is labeled with the vintner's name; all the bottles were priced at or below a discount retailer.
If you can decide which of the 75 wines offered by the glass you prefer, you are better at deciding than I am; I chose to taste a flight of Bordeaux with my meal and it was presented with a detailed printed explanation of each of the wines, along with the price per glass, should I decide to indulge further during my meal. The flight ($17 for three 2 oz pours) included a Pessac (described as smooth), a St. Emilion (described as racy), and a Pomeral (described as elegant). I was happy with all three for different reasons, but my favorite was definitely the Pomeral. Having all three to taste side by side really made their differences and my preferences stand out more clearly than if I had simply chosen one with my meal.
Prix fixe dinners are only $35 for three courses which include wonderful dishes for meat and fish eaters alike. The dishes also include number notes which refer back to wine numbers, so you can orchestrate your meal like a gourmet virtuoso. If you prefer to have your wines chosen for you, just add $25 to include the wine pairings for your meal. The menu changes daily, but the day I was there the prix fix included a choice of trio of hot soups or a cold appetizer, a main course of your choice from any of the entrees listed, and a dessert.
I chose the braised short ribs with a Cabernet port reduction. The meat was so tender and flavorful that I could have eaten it with a spoon and a bib. Beautifully plated with baby root vegetables, including roasted baby brussel sprouts, yellow carrots, asparagus and purple fingerling potatoes, this was a wise recommendation by the waitress. I want to come back for the Albacore tuna with fingerling potatoes, olives, capers, saffron broth, tomato concassee, and fennel slaw, or the Panko crusted soft shell crab, with baby greens, with a Meyer lemon chive beurre blanc with a white wine flight. Unfortunately, I had no room for dessert, but their espresso had a perfect crema which I enjoyed as the sun set over the shoreline.
Hopefully traffic will be terrible again next week and I'll have to stop here for dinner again, darn!
Monday, April 20, 2009
COL (City of Lights) COA (City of Angels) has special screenings and panels this week, starting today through April 26th at the Directors Guild of America Theatre (free parking on Hayworth). This is a really fun way to see films here that have not yet been shown, even in France, or will not be shown here again, with the added bonus of panels with the director, actors, writers, and sometimes producers of the films talking about their films after the screenings. This is a Francocinephile's idea of heaven.
I've been to this event before and every year there are thought provoking films, sometimes shot in very creative ways, and always with very lively discussions. Sponsors include everyone from French television's TV5Monde, to Air Tahiti Nui, Lionsgate, and the LA Weekly.
It seems that the entire French expat community turns out for this event, so get your tickets early so you can be sure to see the screenings of the films you wish. I'll see you there!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
If you add up all the credits and extras included in this offer they add up to MORE than $69! Yes, you can actually say they are willing to pay for you to stay and fill a room (because after all you will spend money on more than the credits). It's one creative way to stimulate the economy. By giving away freebies, the recipients will feel both pampered and secure, and when people feel good, they spend more freely, so they will likely spend more.
Hmmm, maybe we should all take a breath and find a way to feel more pampered and secure so that we live in a state of ease instead of fear.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The boats leave from Dana Point everyday, all year around and they take between 22-26 people on each trip aboard a 35 foot sailing Catamaran. The way the boat is built allows you to see the dolphins swimming closely beside and even under the boat with viewing areas underneath the deck so that you see the dolphins swimming around you underwater! There is also an underwater camera and a flat screen if you prefer to stay above deck. You may of course bring your own camera or camcorder to record everything yourself, but since the owner and Captain has filmed an award winning documentary on dolphins, I would leave the camera work to the professional.
For anyone who has about 3 hours and $55, including children ($35 for kids 3-12) and people who may have physical disabilities, this is a trip where you can get close to Dolphins and whales in your own neighborhood. If for some reason the day you sail out you do not see any dolphins, you can go on another trip for 50% off and if you still see no dolphins, then your third trip is free; but 85% of the time you will see dolphins and even some whales on your first trip.
Instead of driving along Pacific Coast Highway for a view of the ocean, why not take a trip on the ocean for a view of some dolphins and whales?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Have something you want to get rid of? If it's something you either can't give to charity (because they won't take it), or something you can't sell (because of the nature of the item or the hassle of posting it for sale), then try offering it on Freecycle. It's free and there are groups specific for each region of the US, there are a few rules about postings being appropriate for all ages and some common sense regulations for the protection and safety of everyone using the site. It works like the free section of Craigslist, but since this site is specifically geared for all things being given away free, there is no "bait and switch" or upsell tactic here. All postings are free, so you can list for free then put up a notice that it was taken. Of course if you are looking for free stuff, you can also browse the listings to see if anyone is giving away anything you might want from CD cases to couches.
Another freebie that everyone should take advantage of every year is their Annual Credit Report. This used to be offered through the FTC.gov site but they are now working with this site and since there are MANY sites with very similar names which charge fees, make sure you go to this government sanctioned site for your report. You will know you are at the correct URL because this site DOES NOT ASK FOR YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER to get your free reports (unless you want to buy something else, like your FICO score); they verify you identity through questions about your current or past car payments, mortgage payments and addresses, because after all, only you know if you ever lived in Chicago and if your car payment is made out to Bank of America or GMAC. They will give you reports from the three big reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union, along with all the information on how to correct or dispute anything that shows up. You can get your report online or in the mail, and you are allowed one free report a year. The site has clear instructions on how to dispute items or correct information, and if you want to know your rights as a consumer the FTC site still has all the legalese.
It's a good idea to get a physical once a year, so get a credit check up once a year too; especially when it's free.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My friend Pel bought a great HD video recorder called the Flip. Pel, being a great shopper, bought hers at Costco for about $150, but if you aren't a Costco member, you can get it through Amazon for about $200, and if you want yours customized, order the Mino HD model directly from Flip for $229. It's about the size of a cell phone but can record video in either regular or HD for about 2 minutes. To see what kind of quality it can play, just watch this You Tube video of a boy named David on his ride home from the dentist.
Having used it myself today, I love the small size (it fits in my wallet!), the clear picture, and the ease of operation. The pop up USB connector at the top automatically downloads your videos to your computer and is also the charger, so this handy little recorder can be your pocket video player. It is not a fully featured camcorder, so you will have a very small screen and no real way to frame a self recording (the lens is only one way with no way to see what you are self-recording), but it is small enough and handy enough to record all you could want on the fly.
Small and efficient, the Mino HD from Flip is a great little gadget for all those little moments that would go by unrecorded if you had to find and set up your camcorder; since I don't own a camcorder, I may have Pel buy me one just to have something easy and portable to record my meals for this blog!
Monday, April 13, 2009
How do you keep your clients and your accountants happy? Go for a Business lunch at the Palm, where they are offering a 3 course meal for $17-$22. They don't skimp on the choices either; you can choose a starter of mixed green salad, Caesar salad or soup of the day, an entree of twin tenderloin filets, blackened steak salad, chicken Parmigiana, fresh fish of the day, or a Palm burger, served with Palm’s signature cottage fries and fried onions, you even get a dessert choice of a New York-style cheesecake or Key lime pie.
Of course you can still go for broke and go for their classic lobster, but they are even offering a special value price on those, charging only $12 per pound for every pound over 4 on their hard shelled lobsters.
Value is about getting all you want without having to pay with everything you have.
Friday, April 10, 2009
In the process she also learned that her former "plastic surgeon" was actually an Ear Nose & Throat doctor and NOT licensed to perform plastic surgery at all! His "retirement" was enforced by the Medical Board which took away his license. Her experience emphasizes the point of doing research on your medical providers (through the appropriate medical board, not their own advertisements). My friend learned that some doctors sell specific products because they have a quota, so regardless of the appropriate type of product best suited for the patient, they push their patients to buy whatever will fulfill their quota. One very easy way to determine qualification is simply to ask what hospital they are affiliated with for the procedure (her previous "plastic surgeon" was not affiliated with any hospital and performed it in his office); if they hesitate or don't give one, please do other consumers a favor and report them to the authorities. After her 3 hour pre op yesterday she said, "I never had all these tests done before my last operation!" and because of the emergency nature of her condition, Dr. Aboolian is working on her today (Good Friday) to ensure her health.
Hopefully you will also never need to file bankruptcy, but in these economic times, there are some people must file bankruptcy. As if being in that position isn't stressful enough, the plethora of scam artists and sleazy lawyers waiting to prey on them makes the whole process even more stressful. Fortunately, there is at least one really great bankruptcy lawyer in Los Angeles, who is actually recommended by the bankruptcy courts, named Leon Bayer. He has saved two of my friends from very expensive mistakes in their bankruptcy filings by giving them FREE advice over the phone. Yes, a lawyer who will give you a free quote over the phone as well as free advice on the best way to proceed. That in and of itself is a sign of the quality and compassion of this man's legal practice.
A surgeon who works on a holiday and a lawyer who gives out free advice over the phone are very good people to know on this Good Friday.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
If you have some time and would rather go to France than eat at a restaurant managed by a French person, then go to Air France and book one of their sale fares this Spring for $594. If you can't getaway in the next few months, their prices on tickets to Paris in the late Fall and early Winter are even lower; I checked on flights originating in Paris for my French friends to come here and rates were about $564 round trip per person including all fees.
At these prices you can afford to eat out and get out of town!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
As with all great deals, there are certain rules; you must book by April 20, travel June 29-August 13, and you can not fly on a Friday or Sunday, or July 2-6th on this fare. All taxes and fees are not included, and you can not combine this offer with senior or group fares.
If you don't want to go to NYC, or want to get away right now, Southwest also has last minute $99 fare deals from LA to nearly all their serviced cities, like New Orleans, Seattle, or Lake Tahoe. You just have to purchase 7 days in advance, and by April 13 for travel by May 21, 2009, and you can travel every day except Friday and Sunday. For an even cheaper getaway, try Phoenix for $49 with a 14 day advance purchase (this offer also excludes Friday or Sunday travel).
At these fares, if you have a choice of flying or driving, flying is clearly the best choice (unless you are moving).
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
If you want to stay at the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, rooms are only $159 a night or stay on the beach in Santa Monica at the Loew's for $199. If you want to travel to Chicago to the fabulous James Hotel, you get 40% off with the $199 per night rate.
If you don't find anything in this week's discounts, sign up for their newsletter so that you get next Tuesday's participating hotels (the properties change weekly).
Monday, April 6, 2009
If being suspended in midair doesn't appeal to you, then maybe you would like to put your energy into a trip that can help others. The Rainbow Fund is a charitable organization which uses 100%, yes ALL, of the donations to help those in need. Go to Haiti to help plant a garden of vegetables, or take the Rainbow Bus to Tijuana to help eradicate Aids by delivering supplies to a clinic and some orphanages.
And if you want to put your money into something that is good for the planet, check out Alt Energy Stock's website which has information on companies that are working with or on wind, solar, and biofuel projects. They even have Mutual Funds and ETFs if you don't want to single out one company.
It's nice to have so many alternatives to lift your body, soul, and finances to new heights.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Want to drink beer all day at Sony Studios in Culver City? Then hurry and get a ticket to the first Los Angeles Beer Festival this week-end. They are already sold out for Saturday, so spend this Sunday, April 5th enjoying live music and tasting as many 4 oz beers from beer boutiques as you can handle.
More than 50 breweries will be represented and the $40 admission covers unlimited beer tastings and live music. Live music will be provided by tribute bands like Petty Cash and Hollywood U2. Wolfgang Puck Catering will serve up finger foods and Cannoli Kings Catering will offer pulled pork sandwiches, Italian sausages and meatball skewers. For dessert, the 2008 Cupcake Challenge “best original” winner Sugar Jones will serve, you guessed it, cupcakes!
Make sure you have a designated driver or take a cab home; let's make sure you can come back next year.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The Wynn has a promotion for stays from May 25 through September 7, 2009 starting at only $109 a night if you use code MJJAS15 when you book. With this deal, you must book at least 2 nights to get a $50 resort credit (for room charges), and they will upgrade you to a suite at the new Encore (if available) at no extra cost! If you stay four nights or more, you also get a $25 slot credit. If you can only get away during the week-end, it's still a bargain at $159 per night.
I checked on several of the big internet sites for their rates at the Wynn and Encore during this time and they range from $239 to $259 per night with their "discounted" rates, so with this deal you get two nights for the price of one, and that's not even counting the resort credit or the upgrade value.
Better make a reservation as soon as possible, these rates and this upgrade won't be available for long.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
If you already live in the area and just want to come to have breakfast without spending the night, check out the breakfast deals offered through the entire month of April. Deals range from a $7.99 special at Marty D's to free cappuccino at Il Fornaio. There is something for every taste: if you want to eat at L'Ermitage Raffles JAAN, without staying there, they have an eggs benedict special for $25; if you want vegan, the M. Cafe de Chaya has a special Beverly Hills breakfast.
If you are well fed and want to help feed others, the city will have collection bins around town for food donations, so share your wealth; it will feed your soul.