Monthly Archives: January 2014

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Spas and Salons

Illume Spa in Brentwood, Los Angeles

January 31, 2014

Not going to lie, there is a momentary guilt when people ask me if I’m traveling for business or pleasure — I can hardly bring myself to admit that spa’ing in LA is where the two will overlap for me. But someone’s gotta do the job…WHICH brings me to the new Illume Spa in Brentwood (like what I just did there?).

Relaxation lounge


The boutique spa is very new, opening its doors just last November of 2013. Spa owners Lexandra and Kathryn (formerly of Bliss) have over 30 years of experience between them both and wanted the 1,000 square feet sanctuary to be a new age, modern twist to the typical spa. “We’re kind of the antispa,” Lexandra told me, choosing to outfit the spa in vibrant purples and white. Their razor focused on facials and waxing. I popped in for their Illume Signature Facial which translated roughly to 75 minutes of bliss.

Spa Illume


Kathryn totally customized the facial using their Hydrafacial machine (which deep cleanses with light exfoliation and serum infusion). She also used a rubberized peel, the most relaxing oxygen spray, and a mix of their own signature Illume products (made with natural and powerful antioxidents like green tea and aloe and smell PHENOM).

Illume Spa products


The other thing that Kathryn does best is extractions. She cleaned out every pore seamlessly. I barely flinched. The whole signature facial felt like it melted all the guck in my face away and I was left with just a clean, bright glow. If you’re looking for anti-aging or preventative facials, rest assure you’re in great hands here.

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Peels and facials here start at $60 and go all the way up to $200. Depending on your time and concerns, you’ll get facial targeted to your needs. Check out their specials – new clients get 10% off any service for their first visit. Highly recommend checking it out! If only I lived in LA, I’d go again and again.


Spa info:
Illume Spa

11677 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 442-4646
Brentwood


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Shy
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American - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Travel Feasts

The Attic in Long Beach, CA

January 29, 2014

At The Attic

{I’m going slightly out of order in my LA restaurant jaunts…} Right before heading to the airport, I went to Long Beach with some friends to visit Asma, another NY transplant. We walked around the coast and ended up at The Attic, a cute, homey restaurant on Broadway. We sat in the front, under a canopy of lights and tables painted by local Long Beach artists.

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The menu is a touch of southern hospitality in Cali with its American, Creole-style menu. We JUST missed brunch, but the dinner menu looked just as appetizing. We settled on The Napoleon (marinated and grilled portobello mushrooms stuffed with white bean puree, braised greens, caramelized onions, & grilled peppers over homemade herbed tomato sauce, topped with sour cream, and green onions), a veggie burger with cajun style fries and a side of berries, The Crabby Patty (crab patty, coleslaw, and tomatoes on an onion Bun); and the most beautiful invention yet: Mac N’ Cheetos — cheddar, mozzarella, jack cheese, with crumbled spicy Cheetos and green onions.

Mac N Cheetos


Mac n Cheetos


Crabby Patty


Veggie Burger


Side of fresh berries


The Napoleon


Cajun fries

The mac ‘n cheetos didn’t disappoint. It’s normally served with bacon, and we ordered it without which is probably where some of the flavor went. The macaroni and cheese itself was a little bland but the spicy hot cheetos helped that a lot. The rest of us loved our dishes.

The only complaint we had was even though the wait staff was extremely nice, the service was also extremely slow. I thought maybe it was the New Yorker in me who thought so, but our LA friend (hi Saba!) thought the same thing. After waiting almost an hour for our food, our waitress told us that everyone had come at once so things are a little slower than usual (and it looked like she was the only one tending to the patrons outside so it could have been an off-night). Our order was a little messed up when they brought us out extra fries which I pointed out. They still charged us for it, but took another 15 minutes to fix it. Still think the ambiance and food made up for it — and next time, I really need to try one of their desserts: mocha tres leches, molten lava chocolate cake, or banana bread pudding. I’m salivating thinking of it.


Restaurant Info:
The Attic

3441 East Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90803
(562) 433-0153
Long Beach


REPORT CARD
Meal: Dinner

Occasion: Visiting Asma!
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** (they had plenty of tables for couples and groups alike)
Food: ***
Service: ** (could have been a little quicker)
Would I go back?: Yes!



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Shy
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Craving of the Day - Dessert - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Travel Feasts

If you’re ever in LA, you must try a Pizookie

January 23, 2014

Because it’s a warm chocolate cookie topped with ice cream and what more could you want in life?

A mini chocolate chip pizookie



PIZOOKIE: piz·zoo·kee noun
: a fresh baked cookie (white chocolate and macadamia nut, chocolate chip and many other flavors), with vanilla ice cream, served in a pizza style pan.


Restaurant Info:
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Various Locations

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Shy
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American - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Healthy - Travel Feasts - Vegan - Vegetarian

Vegan dinner at Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, LA

Yesterday’s “Only in Cali” moment:
“Hey, what cuisine are you in the mood for tonight?”
“How about vegan?”

I can confidently say I’ve never had this conversation take place in all my years in New York (although, this suggestion did come from a former New Yorker so maybe it speaks more to his changing tastes). LA definitely has the upper hand when it comes to places with organic, fresh, or vegan fare. And you know what they say – when in Cali, do like The CaliFORnians.

Mohawk Bend


Inside Mohawk Bend

And so we found ourselves at the very hipster Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, which stands right at the intersection of Sunset and Mohawk. I’m pretty sure hipster places probably don’t like to be called hipster, but the gallery of facial hair here would only further my point. Anyway.

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A retrofitted 100-year old Vaudeville theater, the place kept a piece of their history and still looks theaterical with its warehouse skeleton, red curtains that opens up to a back area with a fireplace, stage lighting and even the illuminted marquee outside. The mix of booths, bar seating, tall tables and cushioney benches makes it nice for groups or more intimate get together. Or in this case, third-wheelin’ (my favorite).

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The menu looked promising which they change seasonally: Chili cheese fries, vegan burgers, buffalo-style cauliflower, brussels sprouts with roasted baby beet and spiced apple, candied walnut with crispy onions, and a whole list of brick oven vegan pizzas.

Brussels sprouts


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The buffalo-style cauliflower was tangy and paired perfectly with the ranch dressing it was served on. The brussels sprouts (if you like brussels sprouts and I happen to Love them) were amazing though I did notice there were no candied walnuts in the dish they served us.

Keep Abreast & Curry On pizza


For the third dish we got the Keep Abreast & Curry On pizza, with curried cauliflower, cashew cheese, onion, fennel, spinach, pomegranate, yellow curry, basil, and cilantro. Just so happened that this pizza was created for The Keep a Breast Foundation in LA – for each pizza ordered, they donate $4 to the organization. The curried cauliflower and basil made the pizza. So good.

The only place we went sort of wrong was the BBQ Tofu pizza, decidedly not our favorite. We took a chance to try something different over more familiar combos. This one had red onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, smoked tofu, roasted tomatoes, and watercress. We failed to notice there was no cheese at all, which might have helped if we asked for some.

BBQ tofu pizza


But oh man, it was SPICY. Like mouth-burning spicy. And not sure if the sauce was really barbecue sauce, it tasted a little more like ketchup. Kind of ruined it for me, but forgivable since the rest of the meal was amazing and the ambiance sealed it for us.

PS Don’t miss the photo booth that’s set up in front! If this documentation of third-wheeling session with Yasir and Sarah below doesn’t scream #ForeverAlone, I don’t know what does.

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Restaurant Info:
Mohawk Bend

2141 Sunset Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 483-2337
Echo Park


REPORT CARD
Meal: Dinner

Occasion: Trying something new!
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes!



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Shy
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American - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Healthy - Travel Feasts

Urth Caffe in Santa Monica. Also, LA, you win.

January 21, 2014

I get it, Cali. Your weather is amazing, your people are happy, and the food has been winning. So far from the winter blizzard going on in NYC, I’m trying my best to feel guilty, but I’d be lying if I don’t say I’m a tad bit relieved. I’ll save you the pretty beach pictures and screenshots of the weather (cuz, admittedly, that’s just not right), and skip straight to the food. When I came here years ago, my friend Natasha and Pat took me to Urth Caffe which is noted mostly for their organic coffee but their fresh food and decadent desserts are worth the trip too. I came to remember how much I liked the food then and wanted to check it out again so made a trip to the location in Santa Monica right off the plane. There was a line out the door (I thought I left those behind in NYC), but it moved fast enough. And honestly, it was worth the wait if you can get through the dizzying amount of options on their menu.

Rustic Poached eggs

For an early meal, we chose The Rustic Poached which comes over toasted whole wheat bread topped with capers, basil oil, tomato & red onion, and Butternut Squash and herbed ricotta pizza (that comes with a side of chili pepper oil, fresh oregano, and grated parmesan).

Butternut Squash and ricotta pizza


The oregano and ricotta made the pizza and the poached eggs with the salsa was a delicious medley of flavors. So fresh and yum. I also ordered a blended cappuccino (they ask if you want it dark or mild roast, hot or cold…I got it strong and cold :)).

Wait, does this count as a beach pic?


Tip, eat a meal here then go to the beach and rent some bikes. Just to remind yourself not to take this weather for granted. People in NY are suffering, OK.
Restaurant Info:
Urth Caffe

2327 Main St,
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 314-7040

REPORT CARD
Meal: Brunch

Occasion: Cali dining
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** (Indoor and outdoor seating and tables in little nooks)
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes!


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Shy
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Healthy - Sandwiches

Spreads Sandwich Shop in Midtown East

January 14, 2014

It feels like I haven’t blogged in forever. Partly because I haven’t blogged in forever. And oh yeah, Happy New Year all! (Yes, that long). My long list of excuses include the holidays, traveling, and then this Polar Vortex business which was not fun. How did you guys do anything in that mess? It was so cold I couldn’t even think. Seriously, even a girl from Chicago has her limits!

Spreads

Good news though: I’m still eating my way through NYC. So I came across Spreads Sandwich Shop on Twitter of all places (which PS, you have to say the whole name or else my friends and their dirtbag minds think I’m referring to something very different). Their social media kept insisting they have the “best sandwiches in NYC” and other bold claims. The only other sandwich shop I’ve  visited in NYC is Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop in the LES (another good spot, by the way), but turns out Spreads only opened early last year from the owners of Dishes so it’s still a baby. The food though is so delicious, I’m sure it’ll be one of the more coveted lunch spots if it isn’t already (I’m always on the West side, I know nothing about this Midtown East lunch time business, unfortunately).

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Spreads graciously invited me and a friend to try their cuisine out and for some reason, Ariba and I picked a day of torrential downpour. When we scrambled in, the place was mostly clear — the weather made for a slow business day. But hey, more for us.

I met the co-owner, Mike Ezekiel, who told me they tested all the sandwich several times before coming to the perfect ingredients. Which wasn’t hard to tell — all the sandwiches had layers of textures and happily-married flavors that make each sandwich one like you’ve never tasted before. For a lunch spot, it feels like you’re getting something truly special with its farm-to-table goodness (and fast…there’s not a lot of seating so it’s a very in-and-out spot for most).

Truffled Grilled Cheese


And we didn’t hold back in our sampling, trying the Truffled Grilled Cheese (aged cheddar, grilled asparagus, black truffle spread, house spread on a grilled pressed sourdough), the Fish Torta (panko-crusted tilapia, tortilla chips, kaleslaw, pickled tomato jalapeno salsa, house spread on a  brioche bun), and the Vegan Coconut Bacon (applewood-smoked coconut “bacon,” avocado, tomato, house greens, house made vegan mayo on seven grain bread).

Fish Torta


Apple Bacon

The last one I thought was so unique, and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it since I’m not accustomed to anything-bacon-flavored, but it was surprisingly not the overwhelming variety. It was delicious, really.

Brussels Sprouts


Whenever brussels sprouts is on the menu, I must have it (shallots, honey, and balsamic vinegar…loved, though wish it was also served warm!). Also the hibiscus tea is sweet and ridiculously refreshing. A must.

Hibiscus Tea

Being so sandwich-focused, you would think the desserts are an after-thought. But they are seriously worth the calories, namely the Chocolate Espresso Panna Cotta made with valrhona chocolate. If you’re more adventurous, check out their vegan Chia Seed Pudding with coconut and passion fruit  or their Strawberry Tapioca with agave greek yogurt and strawberries (both are gluten-free).

Chocolate espresso panna cotta, strawberry tapioca, and chia seed pudding


Now I just wish I worked on the east side cuz I’d be stopping by here all the time. Even Mike couldn’t get over how much two small girls could eat. If you make food that good, expect it.


REPORT CARD
Meal: Early dinner

Occasion: Checking out the new restaurant
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** (Nice spread of desserts, and very casual for a bite-and-go.)
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes!



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Shy
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