Wednesday, June 30, 2010
All motorcycle riders and drivers lack the safety of having an airbag should anything happen while riding. With the new Armored Air Jacket, you have a built in safety bag which will help protect your spine, neck, and chest should you get separated from your bike in an accident. Think of it as a automatic air bag that deploys like a static line parachute. It comes in a vest version for $250 or the full jacket for $595 and is also recommended for riding that old fashioned vehicle, the horse.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Through July 3, you can take advantage of using Open Table to reserve a table for Kid's Restaurant Week in Orange County. A family of four can eat for $20-$40 for lunch or $30-$60 for dinner. Bluewater Grill has a special price which calculates the kid's price at their age x .25, and at Anaheim House, Savannah Chop House, Riptide, Lulu's, Marrakesh, JT Schmid's, K'ya, and Don the Beachcomber's, kids get their meals free (with paying adults).
So take advantage of feeding your kids for free, and not having to do any dishes this week.
Monday, June 28, 2010
There is always the potential that a "friend", stalker, disgruntled ex, or snoopy family member will pass on that embarrassing comment or photo to your boss, current spouse, or next door neighbor. In spite of knowing all this, people are still shooting private videos, and even if you are not famous, you still probably don't want private videos being spread virally. Let's face it, it's really only fun to go viral if you get a recording contract from your video being seen millions of times, not so much if your video goes viral of you acting like an idiot after a night out drinking.
VidMe is a free service that allows you to ONLY share a video with consent from the owners. It is like having a safe deposit box for your videos that requires two keys to open. You may share one private video for free (multiples cost $ but they have package deals) with whomever you choose. You set the controls for who is allowed to see it, download, and share it, and the privacy controls includes privacy for the comments on it. When you post a video, the URL is masked, so no one can copy and paste it to forward, even from an email link you send.
So now you can make that tape for your private collection and it will stay private, unless of course you want the world to see you dancing in your underwear to "I Will Survive" with a hairbrush in your hand, if you don't mind that being public, you must really be a survivor.
Friday, June 25, 2010
We started with the Kaki Fry ($6.50) of crispy oysters in lettuce cups with a Yuzu-tartar sauce. A perfect balance of crunchy, rich, warm and cold textures in a delectable two bite appetizer.
We chose the Lamb Sliders ($6.25) as our next appetizer. Made with grilled Colorado lamb, kimchee and feta, this taste sensation was a combo of exotic ingredients that worked so well, we ordered another as soon as we tasted the first one. This was our favorite dish of all for all three of us.
Janet ordered the roasted beet and apple salad ($11.50) and we were glad she did as soon as we tasted the herbed goat cheese tart and toasted almonds in a white balsamic vinegar miso dressing. This would have been a wonderful meal by itself for a small eater, but none of us was a small eater.
We also tried the 5 spice chicken salad ($10.50) with Napa slaw, crispy noodles and sesame dressing, which was a nice juxtaposition of flavors and a refreshing addition to our menu.
The Ahi Tuna Pizza ($8.95) was too intriguing to pass up, so we had to try it and we were all surprised at how well the raw tuna on top of the wasabi mayonnaise worked with the pickled ginger on a pizza crust.
Because there was a sushi roll named after the place, we had to order the Beacon roll ($7.95) which was a cucumber wrapped salmon, avocado and crab filled roll with ponzu gelee on top. We would have ordered another one if we did not have another large plate coming.
Our last plate of the evening was the Grilled Hanger Steak ($18.95) with a tamarind sauce, served with a three cheese macaroni dish that was our second favorite dish of the night. The meat was cooked exactly as we ordered it (medium rare), tender, juicy, and infused with a flavor unique to tamarind. Even though I usually do not like macaroni & cheese, I could not stop eating this side dish with its perfect crust and melange of cheesy creaminess.
I don't know how we managed to eat dessert, but somehow the rice crispy treats with vanilla ice cream and a caramel and chocolate sauce made us all loosen our belts enough for a taste. It was very well done, but a bit "normal" after all the taste sensation we had been treated to all night.
Go and head to Beacon, it was truly a beacon of extraordinary innovative cuisine in the heart of Culver City.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
What do yo get when you mix a Jiraffe and a Melisse? Or a Citrin and a Lunetta? As all the chef followers have undoubtedly figured out, the casual cafe Lemon Moon gets its name from a play on the combination of names of the chefs of Jiraffe and Melisse, Josiah Citrin (lemon) and Raphael Lunetta (moon).
Located tucked in a business park in West Los Angeles, it is a handy place to stop for breakfast or lunch, especially if the weather is nice and you can nab one of the outdoor patio tables facing the green space between office buildings. There is parking behind the building and if you are lucky, you can get metered parking in front.
With the huge gym next door, the menu here has options for eaters who want protein, vegetarian, and vegan preferences. Breakfast choices include the hearty Avocado and Cheddar Breakfast Burrito with whole wheat tortilla, scrambled egg whites, avocado, black bean-tomato salsa, scallions and tomatillo sauce for $8.50 or the Omega 3 Omelette, with smoked salmon, grilled asparagus and fresh ricotta cheese served with hash browns, and whole wheat toast for $9.75. If you want a lighter option, they have Steel Cut Oatmeal with fresh fruit, brown sugar, dried fruit and milk for $6.25. If you want to indulge, you can order the French Toast with vanilla ricotta, honey and fresh berries for $8.25 (you can go work it off next door at the gym).
Since I never wake up early enough to go anywhere for breakfast (unless it is served all day or I am on my way to the airport), I ordered a two salad combination. The lunch menu is extensive with sandwiches like slow roasted pork with poblano pepper and cole slaw, full entrees like miso salmon and roast chicken for bigger appetites, and about a dozen prepared salads aside from the ones I chose like roasted beets, orange segments, hazelnuts and sherry vinegar, or the 5 spice chicken salad with burdock root vegetable and carrot. Most meals are under $10 and nothing is over $15, so prices are as casual as the open cafe space.
I chose the Skirt Steak Salad with Thai Basil, grilled scallions, tomatoes, cucumbers, shitake mushrooms, sesame and Asian vinaigrette with the Japanese Turnip greens with sesame and Teriyaki sauce for $11.25. I asked for the steak to be rare but they told me it is cooked in the morning to a medium and mixed into the prepared salad. I was very happy that I risked overcooked steak and ordered this because the entire composition was fresh, the meat was tender and juicy, and even though I would have preferred rare (they do beef salads made to order at Tender Greens and Curious Palate), I was very happy with my choice. I was less happy with the Japanese Turnip greens with sesame and Teriyaki sauce, which I would have thought could not be made badly, but when greens taste so sweet that I could only eat three bites, I would say pass on greens here. Maybe the sweetness was to get people who don't like greens to eat their vegetables (by pouring sugary Teriyaki all over it), but for anyone who actually likes the taste of vegetables, choose another dish. With such an extensive tempting selection of creative salads, it is worth stopping by Lemon Moon again before the next blue moon.
Most of the games are on sale for 99 cents each, which means you can play two games for under a dollar! Even if you are saving your pennies, this sale is worth spending a few just for the fun of it.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Food Network has a "reality" show which searches for cooks (both trained and untrained) to be their next national television star and even if you don't watch the show, you can go to The Grove this Saturday and watch as a local winner is selected from recipes they submitted this month as the winner of A Taste of the Grove.
There will be a full day of food related entertainment from cooking demonstrations by local Chef Jean Francois Meteigner from La Cachette Bistro and two of the contestants from the show, as well as live music and Cadillac test drives. All the fun starts at 10am and goes until 6pm, but you can stay longer and shop, eat & drink as long as you wish, or at least until the Grove closes.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I love chocolate. My preference is for dark 70% + plain artisanal French chocolate. Yes, I know this is blasphemy to some people who say the Belgian or Swiss make better products, but having spent time in both Belgium and Switzerland eating a LOT of chocolate, I can state that my preference is still for the French products. Fine chocolate is as expensive as the quality ingredients, time and skill it takes to make it. But a few bites of exquisitely made fine chocolate fills your senses with a richness and smoothness which no factory chocolate could ever rival.
My favorite chocolatier is Debauve & Gallais which has been making chocolates for royalty since 1800. They have opened a store in NY which ships nationwide so now you don't have to travel to Paris to buy their luxurious bonbons (a ten piece box costs $32), but walking into their shop on Rue St. Peres is worth the price of airfare just to smell the aromas. Last time I was in the shop, a very famous American icon was shopping with her teeny dog (no,it was not PH, her initials were LB*) buying up a huge shopping bag full of delicacies. Modest purchases are possible in the store with a bar of chocolate going for about $8 USD, but indulge at least once in some truffles ($48 for ten) and get a taste of what royalty enjoyed.
My need for a chocolate fix here led me to find Bovetti, which is sold at the Wine House. I was actually shopping for wine when I saw a display of unusual plaques (bars) of chocolate speckled with candied orange peel, Sichuan pepper, lavender, or ginger. I saw on their website they also sell organic, single origin (Ecuador), molded bunnies and other seasonal forms, aperitif (made to be cooked or eaten with alcohol), even grapes in Sauternes coated in chocolate! I chose the classic 73% dark bar ($7) which I love so much I may have to buy a case.
* For those of you who want to another clue think Bogey :)
Friday, June 18, 2010
If you want to give the classic gift of a tie, why not buy it from FIGS which will donate a school uniform for a child who needs one to attend school, for every neck tie you buy. You can choose from one of the Italian silk woven ones, a bow tie, a wool tie, or custom design one in the fabric, colors and print you prefer.
If your father loves chocolate (is there anyone who doesn't?) then you can get him a chocolate tie, watch, or golf balls at Madame Chocolat, where you can also get a cigar or computer, all of which are completely edible. Where else can you buy a computer for $18 or a watch with "jewels" for only $12 that you know your father would actually enjoy?
Or spoil the father figure in your life with a gift certificate from Mc Call's, hidden inside a box of chocolate cigars, wrapped with a silk tie, after all who says your Dad can't have it all?
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I was hungry when I came in so even though I was alone, I ordered as if there were two other people eating with me. I ordered a wonderful side order of coleslaw ($3.50) which was freshly made and gave me the only vegetables in my otherwise all meat meal. The dressing was home made and everything in the slaw held up to it with a nice crunch. The only bad part was the waiter forgot to give me my order so I asked for it to be packed to go.
I tried the hot wings for the first time and was surprised to find they had a very hot kick that was just slightly sweet. You get a choice of either Ranch or Blue Cheese dipping sauce on the side, but I opted for just the wings. They were fried just crispy enough to hold up to the hot sauce, but still tender on the inside.
The main event was of course the basket of beef ribs, which as you can see was so tender most of the meat fell off the bones. Every bite was tender, smokey and perfect. There are two sauces offered on the table, one sweet and one hot. If you are a sauce aficionado, these ribs might change your mind if try these great ribs naked before you pour on any sauce.
They have a huge sign outside the place that says "Free Bones" for your dog during happy hour. But of course if you order ribs, your carnivorous companion can munch on your leftovers, so enjoy a treat and pass on a treat. I like meat and bone Happy Hours.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I chose to make my lunch a raw meal, starting with the Kumamoto oysters (mkt) and choosing as my main course the beef tenderloin tartar ($12). Both were done very well, with enough accompaniments to make it interesting and not so many as to overpower the clean fresh quality of the ingredients.
Cindy chose a spinach, tomato and cheddar cheese omelet with fingerling potatoes ($12) which she also described as fresh and one of the best she has ever tasted. She said given a choice between this one and the one at Little Next Door, Little Next Door would win, but not by much (see my previous post).
Fellow foodie Phil (say that three times fast) chose the Angus Beef Stew Braised in Belgian Beer Haricots Verts & Frites($12). He said the flavor was rich and the meat was tender, but not falling apart, a good rendition of a comforting classic.
He admitted that he ordered the stew mainly because he wanted the frites which were double fried (as they should be) and served with a trio of dips which ranged from plain mayo, pimento (our favorite of the three), and aioli (garlic mayo).
For dessert we were all tempted by the espresso gelato, so we got one order with three spoons.
Like all old friends, we will meet again, restaurant week or not, this is a great find for a casual meal with very good service.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Taking full advantage of Palm Spring's Restaurant week, my friend Cindy & I went to Copley's for a delectable 3 course meal for only $36 each last week. There were many of us partaking of the specials that night including a celebrity performer from Las Vegas who was seated next to us on the terrace, and a birthday party celebration. The spacious grounds and fountain centerpiece made it seem like we were on our own private property. Service was friendly and although the hostess and bartender were very efficient, our waiter was not always attentive.
We came for the food and we were happy. Cindy chose the Roasted Beet and Warm Goat Cheese Salad, made with Micro Greens, Poached Pears, Candied Walnuts, and a Honey Mustard Dressing. She like it well enough to eat it all, but she ended up liking my appetizer more.
I chose the Hawaiian Ahi Tacos, made with Tuna Tartar, Avocado, Green Onion Tossed in Ginger Soy Dressing, Presented In A Sesame Miso Shell, and Topped with Tobiko Caviar. It was so fresh, perfectly seasoned and balanced with nuances of texture that I could have easily made a meal of a few more of these.
For our entrees, we chose specialties not on the menu (but included in the restaurant week price). I chose the New York Filet with portobello mushrooms, baby broccoli and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I was relieved to find it actually came rare as I had ordered it and the sides were robust flavorful accompaniments, but I was disappointed to find the steak needed more oomph (I ended up adding salt).
Cindy chose the Lobster Pot Pie which was so marvelous that this time I was the one who had plate envy. The sauce was infused with a depth of shellfish stock that was rich without being too creamy or heavy, and the chunks of lobster were so tender and juicy that they literally made my mouth water. After I ate a few pieces of my steak, I ended up eating her dish!
Luckily we saved room for dessert, mainly because we chose our desserts when we ordered our meals. Cindy had the Lemon & Lavender Scented Pound Cake with Fresh Berries and Basil Ice Cream. It was light, slightly sweet and had a fresh twist with the lemon and lavender.
I went with the Warm Apple Crumble, which was served with Cinnamon Ice Cream & Caramel Sauce. I was happy with it, but honestly I was too full to finish it after a few bites.
We headed out for a long walk around town after dinner as we tried to work off at least a bit of what we had eaten before continuing our food adventure. Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode at Zin's.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Her favorite place is the Korakia, where she also shot the exteriors for her fashion website Not Just A Wish. In low season (Summer) the rooms range from $223-$292 per night and include breakfast, bicycles, and free Wifi, all without any "resort fees". The Inn is tucked behind the main street, but within easy walking distance to everything, the main entry and side gate both welcome guests with a Moroccan inspired style. There are actually two parts to this hotel, one being Moroccan and the other more Mediterranean which is connected across a side street. We stayed on the Moroccan side.
The side gate allows direct access to the pool area.
There is a nice courtyard behind the main gate where they serve breakfast at outdoor tables which surround the fountain. The check in area is like a foyer with a huge container of complimentary citrus and mint flavored water for guests. They also serve (cold) tea in the afternoon.
The pool area is directly behind the lobby with a nice fountain adding the gentle sound of flowing water to the ambiance. It is a wonderful place to meet fellow mellow guests like the couple Pam & Steve, with whom we talked about our shared interests of food, music, and travel.
Complimentary pool towels, magazines, and sunscreen are provided in a basket between the pool and the fountain.
There are both shaded and sunlit areas with cushioned daybeds on either side of the pool.
As well as a wall of showers that face a large cushioned seating area.
We chose the Adobe room which was originally the owner's suite.
The air conditioning was a welcome relief from the 102 degree dry heat outside, and although the bathroom was small, it was clean and offered nice orange blossom toiletries. Besides a nice tub, a nice feature in the bathroom was the window that actually opened to allow air circulation. It would have been great to have some wall or door hooks for the towels, but otherwise everything was functional in the small space.
There was also a nice little kitchenette area with a small refrigerator with an ice compartment which had a filtered water pitcher we very much appreciated having in our room. Oranges were also in a bowl in our room and added a nice refreshing accent to the decor. Quality coffee was a welcome touch, along with a corkscrew and glasses.
Breakfast is included in the rates and served from 7am-11am in the courtyard. Coffees and teas are available in the lobby and once you get your hot beverage, you are served freshly squeezed orange juice and a meal made as soon as you are seated. We had Huevos Rancheros during our stay, and while the eggs were tasty, I can not say I the meal was good. Breakfast was made with obviously store bought beans topped with unmelted cheese and the eggs were not completely scrambled underneath the salsa topping.
It was a friendly, relaxing place with very personalized attention. We were served chocolate truffles and pieces of chocolate at our room as afternoon snacks, and when I brought back used pool towels to the reception area, I was told thank-you, but it is ok to leave them by the pool because they would be picked up from the chaises. The beds were very comfortable and there was absolutely no noise, so it is a perfect peaceful retreat for anyone seeking a small private inn experience without intrusions like televisions, phones, or room service (although they will order food delivered to you poolside for lunch or dinner). Wifi is free but was very weak, so don't plan on being online during your stay. After all isn't the point of a getaway to unplug?
Friday, June 11, 2010
Upon my arrival in the 100+ degree town, I immediately wanted a cool place to sit and a bite to eat, so I headed for Zini Cafe Med in the heart of downtown. They specialize in small bites of both hot and cold plates, but they also offer full meals of salads, sandwiches, crepes, and omelettes. The food is Italian Mediterranean, by a chef trained in Brussels, and this is the sister cafe to the restaurant down the street Zin American Bistro. Their restaurant week deal is $24 for a tapa, a full entree, dessert, and glass of wine, but I was not hungry enough to partake of the deal for lunch, so I chose to have a drink and a few tapas instead as I sat under the misters watching the few heat resistant people meandering on Palm Canyon Drive in 103F weather.
They have a plentiful selection of wines by the glass at great bargains, so I started with a Pinot Grigio ($6) and their Tuna Carpaccio, served with Citrus, Balsamic Pomegranate Drizzle, Spanish Olive Oil & Capers ($6). It was a wonderful way to start a meal with the perfect balance of protein, acidity and luscious olive oil.
I chose the Grilled Baby Octopus, Tomato Hummus Crostini, Sesame & Lemon ($5) as my second bite, and could have easily eaten two orders of these delicately grilled bites of flavor. There was just enough contrast of texture to make the tender baby octopus come to life on its bed of hummus.
Since my friend Cindy & I had dinner reservations that night, I did not venture further into the menu, but it was a perfect way to start off my stay. I will definitely keep this place in mind as a breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner place. This is a perfect location to sit and people watch as you sip some wine and eat some tapas on a warm Palm Springs evening.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
If you are addicted to Tumbler, the site which allows you to blog, share photos, videos and text, you can help just by logging on and donating to one of the charities that are helping mitigate the damage being done by the oil spill, like Save Our Gulf, National Audubon Society, or the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Tumblr will match every donation and the black dashboard that is in place will return to the familiar blue once you make a donation.
If only we could make the Gulf water blue again with just a click, but every donation helps and all progress is measured in small clicks.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
More than 200 films will be shown, with gala showings, documentaries, shorts, and foreign films at screenings scattered among old and new venues like Ford Amphitheater, the Grammy Museum, and the new L.A. Live Center. You can buy single tickets ($12-15) or packages for multiple events either online or at the venues. For people who want to enjoy a discounted hotel package at the festival hotel the Standard Downtown, they are offering film festival rates starting at $135 per night. All parking for the events is $8 and your ticket stubs will give you discounts or deals at several of the downtown restaurants and bars before of after your movie.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
If you know the names Wolfgang Puck, Josiah Citrin, Karen Hatfield, Mark Peel, Susan Feniger, or Joachim Splichal, then tune in TODAY for a FREE panel discussion with all six innovative chefs. The program will be moderated by Lisa Foxx of 104.3 MYfm. You can even submit your questions to them and watch the free webstream broadcast here from 7-8pm.
This is fun interactive live education at its best!
Monday, June 7, 2010
If you prefer to go out on Sundays and you love sushi, go to Chaya any Sunday starting this coming one (June 13) and get special rolls for $3.50 or get 2 rolls for 1 for only $5, and even a large beer is only $5 from 5pm-9pm.
If you want to treat your Father to a Father's Day Brunch (June 20) it is only $38 per person or $18 per child under 12, and as an added bonus adults over 21 get bottomless draft beer included in this price from 11am-3pm.
And if you just want to unwind at a Happy Hour, Chaya's Happy hour lasts all day from 11:30 until closing with a special menu from 2:30-5pm everyday.
Cheers for Chaya!
Friday, June 4, 2010
Even non foodies have heard of Jose Andreas (Bazaar), Michael Mina (XIV), Nancy Silverton (Mozza) or Nobu, but the roster includes Los Angeles stars like Ludo Lefebvre (Ludo Bites), Neal Fraser (Grace), and Suzanne Goin (Lucques). There will be more than 40 restaurants offering bites that range from savory to sweet (Sprinkles will be there), and more than 15 wineries will be serving up drinks to go with your food.
There will be music, a culinary demonstration, comedians, a live auction (for all things food and wine related), and to cap off the event a waiter race which is worth the admission price alone!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Do you like Italian food? If your answer is yes, then this is the month to eat! This month you can travel with your stomach through Italy while in Los Angeles. Some of my favorite restaurants are collaborating with the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West and the Italian Trade Commission this month. That translates to mean that special prix fixe menus will be available from June 5-20th at local Los Angeles ristorantes like Il Grano, Locando Del Lago, Il Moro, Caffe Roma, Drago, and Valentino. Menus will include favorite Italian ingredients like fava beans, risotto, and ricotta.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
That means my favorite Tuna Tataki Salad, made with citrus-soy marinated tuna seared rare, over mixed baby greens with cucumber, avocado, kaiware sprouts, wasabi mayo, and ponzu vinaigrette which normally is $11.25 will be more than half priced!
Even their popular The Bento Box (served cold) with assorted steamed vegetables, inari sushi, soba noodle salad, housemade pickles and carrot-ginger dressing with your choice of Organic Miso-Yaki Salmon, Albacore Tuna Tataki, or Shrimp, normally $11.25 is $5!
This is a great time to get someone who has never tasted vegan food to try it as your treat, just like many addictions, if you give them the first taste for free, they might get hooked for life!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
With movie ticket prices hovering around $10 per person, taking a family out can cost a small fortune these days, especially if you also buy snacks and drinks for everyone. And with so many films coming out in 3D today, premium prices are hard to avoid these days. Regal Theaters is giving families a break starting today through August, they are offering 10:00 AM showings of G and PG rated films FREE on Tuesday and Wednesday! There are participating cinemas throughout the US, so check this link for the movies being offered and to find the one nearest to you. The films are not the newest releases, but if you missed "Where the Wild Things Are", "Planet 51", Monsters vs. Aliens", or "Charlotte's Web", you can catch them this time.
With a free movie, you can even afford to buy popcorn, candy, and drinks at the movies.