Monthly Archives: May 2015

American - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Healthy

Gjelina in Venice, CA

May 31, 2015

Gjelina


I’ve had some good eats in LA for sure, but Gjelina set the bar on a whole different level.

Gjelina

It could be that we were famished and every single thing on the menu looked like a good idea (marinated roast beets with avocado, citrus, hazelnut and sherry whattt?). Could have been  the outdoor patio dining area that let us soak in some of the beautiful Cali weather. OR it was likely even our waiter, Myan, who detailed each dish with so much gusto you felt like not ordering one of his recommendations might actually let him down (but he wouldn’t let you, of course, because he was so convinced we were going to love the food he put in the orders for us even as we were deliberating over them). But really, it always comes down to the meal which gave us so much to pore over (in taste and looks — every meal looked like it was fashioned for a gourmet mag), we left elated. Feast your eyes on it:

Tuscan kale, shaved fennel, radish, lemon, ricotta salata and breadcrumbs

From just looking at the menu, I would have never thought to order the smoked trout salad — I’m not a huge fish eater, and the combo with grapefruit and avocado sounded too experimental for even me. But Myan insisted we had to try it. The salad is so fresh and the citrus isn’t overpowering at all — I would even ended up liking it more than the kale salad.

Smoked trout, grapefruit, avocado, red onion, and lemon


Grilled king oyster mushrooms with tarragon butter

Grilled king oyster mushrooms with tarragon butter


Wood roasted cauliflower, garlic, chili, vinegar


Crispy purple potatoes, aioli, pickled red onion, horseradish, and dill


Hanger steak sandwich with roasted anaheim pepper, arugula, and horseradish aioli


Salt and pepper frites with romesco and aoili


Pomodoro, confit tomato, basil, oregano, and green olive oil


Side of fresh oregano, cheese, and red pepper


Mushroom, rosemary, and garlic oil pizza


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Avocado, sprouts, red onions, pepper, aioli, and fennel sandwich


Just when we though we couldn’t eat more, Myan convinced us that we haven’t lived until we tried their butterscotch pot de creme with salted caramel and creme fraiche.

Butterscotch pot de creme


And that’s how lunch is done. Can’t wait to go back to check out their bakery counterpart, Gjusta. And since you’re on Abbot Kinney anyway, make sure you stop by the cute shops on the street like Burra, and Tom’s coffee shop/shoe store.


REPORT CARD
Meal: Lunch

Occasion: Trying out new digs on Abbot Kinney
Price: $$$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes


Restaurant Info:
Gjelina

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd,
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-1429



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Afghani - FOOD - "The Delicious"

Fremont Afghan Kabob in SF

May 28, 2015

Guys, if you have just three hours before a flight in SF and have time to eat at only one place, do like we did and visit Fremont Afghan Kabob — because you’ll have good food and be really happy and then pass out immediately right after *takes a breath.

Inside Fremont Aghan Kabob

The plan was actually to go to De Afghanan upon a fairly solid recommendation from our friends, but we got there only to find it was opening later than schedule (not sure if it being Memorial Day had anything to do with that). We took a chance at the newly opened Fremont Afghan Kabob since it was the first time for us all, and the short story is it did not disappoint. The restaurant has two areas. The entrance has regular tables and seats, but a level up is a carpeted space with low tables where you can eat family-style sitting on cushioned floor mats and pillows. Fine for us — maybe not so much for our little 6 foot 4 friend, but he managed to sprawl out in his own little corner without complaint.

Inside Fremont Afghan Kabob


The decor (replete with traditional Afghan clothes, shoes and crocheted pakols pinned up high on the walls) wasn’t its strong suit (no pun), but the food was definitely the star of the place as we hoped for. We ordered boorani kadoo (butternut pumpkin cooked with garlic, peppers and onions topped with their homemade yogurt, boolani (grilled bread filled with seasoned potatoes) to start.

Boorani kadoo


Boolani


.

We moved on to mantoo (Afghan style pot sticker filled with ground beef onions and spices, topped with homemade yogurt ground beef tomato sauce), chicken kabob (charbroiled chicken breast marinated with seasoning and served with brown rice), beef kabob, and chapli kabob (grilled ground beef with cilantro, green onions, and spices).

Mantoo


Chicken kabob


Mixed dish with beef and chicken kabob


Chapli kabob

The meat was succulent, well-spiced, and perfectly cooked. The whole meal left us simply satisfied — enough that four hours into my flight, I was so mad at myself at not taking the leftover boolani like my friend told us to. PSA for the day: don’t ever say no to leftovers here.

REPORT CARD
Meal: Lunch

Occasion: Pre-flight meal
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: **
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes, yes, yes


Restaurant Info:
Fremont Afghan Kabob

5379 Mowry Ave,
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 739-3860


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Spanish/Latin American - Travel Beauty - Travel Feasts

All about my Costa Rica trip!

May 22, 2015

I’m still nostalgic over my trip to beautiful Costa Rica. Since then, I’ve had a few people asking me about details about what I did, and where I stayed so I figured I’ll do a round up here to make it easier on everyone ☺.

Poás Volcano



WHERE WE STAYED
(in order of day):
Double Tree Hilton (San Jose)

Lobby at the Double Tree in San Jose


Outdoor pool at the Double Tree hotel


Hotel Presidente (San Jose)

Hotel Presidente


Volcano Lodge (Arenal)

Welcome drinks at Volcano Lodge


Outdoor pools at the Volcano Lodge

Note: One place to avoid if you’re going to Arenal is Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa. We kept coming back to our room to find animal droppings on our bed, so we had to shift over to Volcano Lodge really late at night.
Parador Resort & Spa (Punta Quepos/Manuel Antonio)

Parador Hotel


That view!


*This was by far our favorite hotel – beautiful heated pools, scenery, spa, and gym.
Club del Mar (Playa Jaco/Jaco Beach)

Club del Mar


Club Del Mar at night


WHAT I PACKED
:
Pack plenty of comfy workout clothes (I depended on leggings), sneakers (or water shoes) for rafting, and canyoning, and extra bathing suits. By the end, every single thing I brought was drenched. There was almost no day where we didn’t get wet, either from activities, or from light rainfall.


Toiletries
:
Travel shampoo
Moroccanoil serum (travel size)
Dove travel size body wash
Sunscreen (I brought Neutrogena’s and L’Occitane’s Jenipapo Oil with SPF 15 for all over just because it smells amazing)

Makeup
:
Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Waterproof mascara
Tarte Skinny SmolderEyes Waterproof Eye Liner
Becca Beach Tint (for lips and cheeks)
Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix Makeup


WHAT WE DID
:
Day 1 and 2
Visited the Doka estate to learn about how they pick and process coffee.

Doka Estate


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Showing the difference between different coffee roasts


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Botas Lagoon near Poás Volcano


Went to the active Poás Volcano which was probably one of the most beautiful natural beauties I’ve ever seen.

Hiking after Paos


Views on the way to La Paz


Stopping for fresh strawberries on the way


From there, we went on another hike to La Paz Waterfalls Garden.

On the way to see the waterfalls


Toucans!


Macaw amore


Butterfly garden


Midday showers right when we started eating lunch


.


Mountain lion


Spotted jaguars


La Paz waterfall


Day 3
White Water Rafting on the Pacuare River with Rios Tropicales. I’ve never rafted before, but this three-hour journey was one of the most crazy and memorable things we did.

White water rafting with Rios Tropicales


.


The river is a Class III-IV, which makes it pretty rough but the guides were excellent and took care of everyone (and yes some rafts flipped over – you have to be prepared for anything on the river!). When you have moments of calm, the scenery is breathtaking, and there’s even a part between canyons you can jump off the raft and swim.

One of my favorite parts of the experience -- rafting in this serene space between canyons

Day 4
Canyoning tour, hike in Arenal National Park, and an all night soak in hot springs in the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort.

Canyoning was another fun trip for us. We were strapped into a harness and started from the top of a waterfall where we were taught to repel off the rocks and then led through a trail that consisted of unexpected submersion and what they jokingly called a Costa Rican tsunami:

Canyoning!


Where's Shy?


We changed the pace for the hike where we learned about the most famous Arenal Volcano, and were finally led straight to Tabacon’s hot springs. This was such a treat after all our hikes and rafting from the day before (which we were thoroughly sore from). The spa uses water that’s naturally heated from the Arenal volcano. It’s the most relaxing experience ever, plus they have a full buffet waiting for you after you’re done swimming.

Hike to Arenal Volcano before dipping in the hot springs


Day 5
Private transfer to Manuel Antonio, a beautiful beach town. I should note here that of all the physically demanding things we did, nothing got to me except this 5 hour car ride of winding roads and mountains. I almost got really car sick half way there, I had to switch places with the guy in front just because I was getting so dizzy. But anyway – the good part is we were greeted with cool watermelon juices and warm face towels right when we got to Parador Hotel. We had the day off to enjoy the pools at the resort. The second day we took a hike at the Manuel Antonio rainforest, where we got to spy on sloths, snakes, monkeys, lizards, and toucans. We ended the hike at a beach where we were able to rest and lay out for a little while.

Day 6

This was supposed to be our day off, but my friend Fatima and I visited the tour desk at the hotel and booked ziplining and horse back riding through the jungle. The horse back riding trail ended at the most beautiful waterfall where you can swim if you want (realistically there’s not a lot of space to swim, although the water is shallow enough if you want to try).

Zipling fun


Horse back riding


.


Riding to waterfalls

Day 7 and 8
Jaco beach. This was supposed to be another beach day for us, but Jaco is more of a surfer’s beach. The water was at low tide when we got there, and it’s mostly dark sand and rocks. Here Fatima booked surfing lessons and I rented a boogie board for the day.

WHAT WE ATE
Most of our meals were included with the tour and we ate a lot of rice and beans, eggs, potatoes, and fresh fruits (pineapples, guavas, and watermelon), which I surprisingly never got sick of.

Burritos and nachos at Jaco


Fatima and I started a bad habit of having cake and tea every night at Parador too…

Nightly rituals


I also have been really recommending the tour company who put our itinerary and accommodations together so last minute for us – Lars at CRS Tours was amazing and on call whenever I needed him while I was there too. If you want to book your tour through them (at a very reasonable price), email him at lars.s@crstours.com (our Adrenaline & Relaxation package inluded bilingual guides, a SIM card for your phone, and plenty of meals).

Last sight on the way to the airport!

PURA VIDA!!



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Beauty - "The Lovely" - interviews

The Real co-host Jeannie Mai talks beauty & recycling your products

May 19, 2015

“Makeup has always been the most inexpensive way to enhance my identity,” Jeannie Mai, beauty expert and talk show host of The Real tells me. “Even at the age of 36, I can still have confidence issues. That’s why it’s important for me to partner with companies like Unilever — they teach women to not only own their beauty, but to take it a step further and do good for the planet as well.”

Jeannie Mai, beauty & fashion expert and co-host of The Real, joins the Unilever “Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.” movement and shows off how with just a rinse and recycle empty bath and beauty bottles can take on new life and return as new items like her stylish umbrella.


The queen of reinventing herself (seriously, she’s probably sported 3,000 different looks since I first met her four years ago in NY!), shared some of her beauty tips with me below!:

Beauty and the Feast: How do you store your beauty products when you travel, and what do you make sure you take with you?
Jeannie Mai:
I love compacts, so I create my own. Once my old makeup products – blush or foundation compacts – are done, I rinse out the residue on the inside, then I use them to use my new concealers and lip glosses. For example, I finished this one blush compact, so I put new lip glosses in it, stuck it in the fridge, and it cools to make a new lip palette. I condense all my products, so I have a small makeup pouch. You can also purchase ones made of recycled material.

Once I travel, the number one thing I make sure I pack besides my lip colors is my Simple Micellar Cleansing Water. It’s the shiz! Especially when you’re traveling you don’t always have time to go to a sink and wash your face. As long as I have that cleansing water, it allows me to wash my face, so to speak, wipe off all my makeup and it leaves my skin feeling moisturized too. You know how when you’re on the plane your skin feels really tight? This is the only stuff that once I’ve cleansed my face it actually feels really moisturized and rejuvenated so I don’t have to put on additional moisturizer when I don’t have time.

Mai in West Hollywood



BATF: Do you have any beauty rituals on the plane?
Mai:
I always put a lumbar pillow on my seat for my back or even a rolled up sweater on the lower part of my back. I promise you it will make a world of difference. And I love oils or aromas, I use lavender oil on my wrist and neckline once I board. It smells so fresh and relaxing.

BATF: What are some products you have in your bag right now?
Mai:
I always have a Dove bar because it removes my makeup and doesn’t irritate my skin. Even expensive hotels might have nice products but it has so much fragrance in them that it irritates my skin. I have eczema so this works best for me. I also carry a little Tom Ford perfume with me. And I love carrying Too Faced palettes — there also made of recycled products. I always support brands that do their part.

BATF: What are some tips you learned on the set of The Real?
Mai:
My makeup artist, Uzmee, is always playing with glitter. And you know when you use glitter or any kind of sparkle and you get that one speck that travels down your face and just sticks there — like, no matter how hard you try to flick it with your nail, it never comes off? Here’s your tip: take a little piece of Scotch tape and tape it right off. If you don’t want to ruin your makeup, take the piece of tape and stick it somewhere else on your skin and take it off so it’s not so sticky and then touch that glitter and you can remove it without having to like claw your face to death.

The program is designed to educate people about recycling in the bathroom, inspire them to reimagine what empty bathroom products could become through recycling, and ultimately make a small change that holds big potential to positively impact the environment.



BATF: Finally, why is important to you to work with Unilever to raise awareness on recycling?
Mai:
We have seven billion people in this world and one planet. The average American has about eight plastic bottles that can be recycled in their bathroom. We have to take it beyond just the kitchen — think about the bottles in the bathroom. Think about your body washes, your deodorants, your creams – all these things in plastic containers. It’s not just because it’s good for the planet, but these things can be remade into products that we buy today still: your makeup bags, your hairbrushes, even your kids backyard play sets. They’re all made from recycled plastics. If we all took it a step further, we can save 29 million tons of plastic that end up in landfills every year. It’s unbelievable how much waste we produce. Unilever wants to reward you for doing your part. Just take a picture of any plastic bottles in your bathroom and post it on Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #reimaginethat #sweeps, and Unilever can award you with a prize, which is pretty cool!

Snap a photo of your bathroom recyclables on Twitter or Instagram using #ReimagineThat and #Sweeps to spread the word and be entered for a chance to win reimagined recycled prizes. Details below!


Thanks Jeannie Mai and Unilever for the interview!

More details on the Unilever Sweepstakes: Go to brightfuture.unilever.us to learn more about bathroom recycling and how to get involved! http://unileversweepsrules.com/reimagine/

  • Ends June 9
  • Daily prizes (42 in total) and a grand prize (1 for a $500 gift card)
  • Users must include #ReimagineThat and #Sweeps and tag @UnileverUSA in order to qualify



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Photos: Casey Rodgers/AP Images for Unilever

Breakfast/Brunch - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Healthy - Homemade - Recipes - Vegetarian

Recipe: Avocado banana breakfast smoothie

May 4, 2015

Sorry, sorry. Technology and I — we’re just not friends. I tried to post this recipe for you guys yesterday but [insert chain of excuses here]. As I mentioned on Instagram, I’ve been drinking this smoothie after I workout in the mornings and it gives me so much energy and is filled with nutrients. And it doesn’t hurt that it takes two minutes to make. Just mix the following together in a blender:


Ingredients
:
1/2 an avocado
1 banana
1 tsp ginger, raw/grated
1 tsp honey
1 cup brewed green tea
1/2 cup of spinach
1 tsp of Carrington Farms organic chia and flaxseed mix (optional)
ice

Avocado breakfast smoothie

Avocado is a good source of fiber and vitamins like B and E. The green tea helps jump start your metabolism, and regulates your glucose, while the ginger helps strengthen your immune system and aids in digestion (and gives a nice kick to the smoothie…if you know anything about me, I love ginger in EVERYTHING. It’s a good problem). Spinach adds zinc, protein, and vitamins, and finally, I like to add chia and flax seeds as another source of Omega 3s and fiber. Carrington Farms somehow telepathically knew I’m always stocked up on these, and coconut oil and sent me easy to use on-the-go packets which I’m now obsessed with (especially since I can take them on my travels). I put them on everything, but more to come on that soon.

Any of you going to try the smoothie? Let me know what you think!


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