The Best Of… LA

by Koko on August 14, 2012 · 4 comments

in Best Of, Restaurants, Review, Shopping

Since this is my last night as a Los Angeles resident (I guess that makes me an Angeleno, but I never liked the word), I thought I would share my favorite LA spots with you. Born and raised here, I have 27 years of knowledge on my side and like to think I’ve truly experienced Los Angeles.

1. Best Hiking - Runyan Canyon: I know it’s overly hyped and everyone tells you to go there, but for a hiker and dog walker I find this neighborhood hike the BEST. There are three different routes (easy (all concrete), medium (10 minutes of intense uphill) and hard (ridgetop) and it has the best people (and dog) watching around. This is a weekly go to of mine for an outdoor exercise.

2. Best Seafood – Son of A Gun: Last night my girlfriends and I went to Son of A Gun for my goodbye meal and I only wish I had gone here every week for a year before this. From the owners of Animal (they do crazy things with meat), this mainly fish restaurant serves some of the best food I’ve had. From lobster rolls to fried chicken sandwiches to oysters and linguini with clams, I didn’t taste a bad dish.

3. Best Produce Shopping - The Hollywood Farmers’ Market: For a foodie and cook, this is my favorite market ever. The variety of stalls and types of produce you can get is unmatched by anywhere I’ve ever been. We get our fresh fish from there every week as well as 90% of the produce we eat (the other 10 is normally offseason).  This is one of the things I will miss most about not being in LA.

4. Best Workout - Dove’s Bodies: During the week, I worked out at Equinox in West Hollywood (a dream gym), but on Saturdays I stepped out of my usual schedule (spinning, sculpt, swim) and took this boot camp. My mom has been going to Dove’s for 20 years…and Dove has only gotten better with time. 75 minutes of cardio/weights/lunges/jumping rope/abs and everything in between. It leaves you breathless and sweaty. An AMAZING workout (and worth the schlep to the valley).

5. Best Brunch Spot – Luna Park and CheeboLuna Park has the more funky brunch choices and is located on La Brea and Wilshire, which is more south than I usually travel for brunch (who wants to drive 20 minutes when you are hungover and in need of some grease?), but we make the trek for the bloody marys and greasy brunch options. My favorite are the chilequiles (tortilla chips, eggs, cheese, chorizo). Another favorite brunch spot (and convienetly located 10 minutes from my house) is Cheebo. Healthier options, good atmosphere, great Arnold Palmers. My go to here is the fried egg sandwich (ciabatta, fried eggs, lettuce, tomato, a little aioli).

6. Best Sandwiches – Mendocino Farms and Larchmont Wine and Cheese (tie): Mendocino Farms quickly rose to the top of my all time favorite sandwich restaurants in the best year when it opened a location on Fairfax and 3rd Street. Their sandwiches are pretty much perfect- the sandwich combinations are right on (turkey, avocado, salsa), the staff there is superb and the location is ideal. Larchmont Wine and Cheese has a list of 6 sandwiches (think turkey, caprese, tuna, or salami) and they recommend you get them loaded (garlic aioli and olive oil and balsamic). They are classic sandwiches served on fresh out of the oven baguette and are truly mouth watering. The line can get a little long on weekends (only two sandwich makers), but it is well worth the wait.

7. Best Cupcakes – Sprinkles: You just can’t beat this cupcake. There is a reason the line is always out the door, they are that good. I recommend going online to pre-order or to see what flavor cupcakes are baking that day (the salted carmel is a favorite).

8. Best Shopping- The Grove: If you can’t tell, I’m a J. Crew girl through and through, so for me The Grove is a one-stop-shop. I head over to J. Crew to gather my essentials, get some basics at Gap and if I’m feeling like spending money head to Nordstrom’s. There’s a Sur La Table for my baking/cooking needs and a TopShop is opening in the next few months (think Forever21 but a little cooler and pricier) for my trendier needs. And if you spend over $250 in one day, you get free valet (let’s not discuss how many times this has happened to me…).

9. Best Outdoorsy Store – REI: This is much more Q’s expertise than mine (can you tell I’m not outdoorsy just because I used the word outdoorsy?), but REI is the best place for camping/fishing/hiking/skiing gear, basically all things Alaska. Before my first trip up to Alaska (and before I knew what to expect), I headed into REI and bought Sorels (big 10 pound waterproof boots that have been worn once), Merril hiking boots (to my fashionistas, just turn your eyes away), a fleece (lifesaver) and some socks that cause my feet to be a size larger than usual in shoes. But I wouldn’t have been able to find this stuff anywhere else (and I am reassured that when it is -40 I am going to want those socks and ugly shoes). Also when Q was deployed and needed some goods (foldable coffee filter/coffee mug/small pillow), this was my first stop. The customer service is superb also.

10. Best Restaurant (General) – Mercato di Vetro: I have to give it to them, although the customer service can be iffy (especially on a Friday or Saturday night), the food makes up for it. If I haven’t been here in a while, I miss the food. Mercato serves fresh, but comforting food. Think kale pizza, burrata with grapes and balsamic, mussels and fresh bread. The cocktails are good too (and make the wait on a Friday night a little more bearable).

So that’s all folks. Tomorrow I’m hopping on a plane up to Alaska to start the next chapter! I can’t wait to tell you all about the adventures this LA girl has in the last frontier!

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by Koko on July 22, 2012 · 2 comments

in Restaurants, Review, Weekend

 On Friday, my parents and I went to dinner at Papilles, a small French bistro in Hollywood. The restaurant seats 30, has an open kitchen and their wine list  equals a wall with a rack of wines. Since there is no wine menu, you just tell the waiter what you like and he goes to the wall and brings what he thinks you will like back. The food is prix fixe. You pick between two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts. The choices were a simple soup or salad to begin and then salmon or steak for your main. Dessert was a choice between a chocolate pot de creme and cheese. We all had salad and then my mom had steak and my dad and I had salmon. The food was incredible and the service was amazing. I loved the feel of the small neighborhood restaurant and as a family we promised to come back again.

Saturday was a pool day.

And a shopping day. I told Q that J. Crew was having a sale and since I’m trying to not spend so much on myself, I might as well buy him some stuff. 40% off sale items = $20 per shirt. I couldn’t hold back.

And then a sushi night. My girlfriends and I went to Sugarfish, our favorite sushi restaurant in Brentwood. For $30 you get 6 courses of sushi. Yes please.

My mom is the green thumb of our family. This is the fourth haul of tomatoes from her summer garden. She just planted the second round of plants. We are so lucky. Caprese pasta here I come.

We went to the market and picked up some small guys too.

And then made tuna salad with fresh ahi from the market, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers and a little sesame oil and soy sauce. Amazing.

And tonight is The Dark Knight! SOOO excited.

PS don’t forget to enter my Chanel number 5 giveaway!

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Weekend of Food

by Koko on March 11, 2012 · 4 comments

in Restaurants, Review, Weekend

This weekend my girlfriend Nia came in to town to visit us from New York. And what better way to celebrate than treat her to the best food we could think of in LA?

Friday Night we went to M Street Kitchen, a modern American restaurant with a fresh, organic menu. M Street Kitchen is located in Santa Monica on Main Street and is next door to one of the most delicious pizza restaurants I’ve been to in LA, Stella Rossa. The cocktails at M Street were varied and delicious (I got a lemonade vodka drink and the rest of the table were please with their selections also). I decided on the fish tacos which were flavorful, fresh and well seasoned (sometimes I find fish tacos to be bland). The go-to dessert here has to be their selection of HUGE cookies. I would drive cross town just for the cookies!

Saturday for lunch we decided on True Food Kitchen located in the Santa Monica Place (big mall next to the 3rd Street Promenade). The menu here is vegetarian-friendly global cuisine and most of the produce is organic and local. This was my first time here and I couldn’t have been more pleased. We ordered the edamame dumplings since the family next to us had ordered 3 plates full. We assumed they must be delicious and they were amazing. Mouth watering, perfect Asian flavoring, just delicious. For our mains, we got a breakfast burrito and  an open faced egg white omelete topped with kale. Both dishes were  great, healthy dishes as well. This restaurant’s menu and approach to food is right up my alley and I will definitely be coming back here to try  their lunch and dinner menus.

Dinner was my westside go-to favorite, Tavern. I ordered something new: the asparagus, mushroom and polenta dish and loved it. I find sometimes it’s hard to make vegetarian dishes filling, but this one did the trick. Full of healthy veggies and creamy polenta, this was fabulous. Also of notable mention was the fish of the night, the red snapper  served with yogurt sauce which was out of this world. This restaurant can do no wrong in my eyes.

This morning was brunch at Blueplate, one of my favorite Santa Monica breakfast/brunch/lunch restaurants. Blueplate offers classic dishes with an organic and fresh touch (do you see a theme throughout the weekend?). I got a bowl of the turkey chili, which they are famous for, and found it tasty and filling without being too heavy. The girls got salads with the restaurant’s balsamic vinaigrette (hard to replicate and one of the best I’ve had).

And this week, I’m excited to eat at home every night! Eating out is fun, especially with company in town, but I miss home cooking a lot after a weekend like this.

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Hello and happy Wednesday! I’ve been having trouble getting a good night’s sleep recently. I was blaming caffeine, stress, Q being gone and everything else in the book until I realized it’s actually because of this:

Having Bentley sleep under the covers is ruining my sleep. I know he looks fast asleep and innocent, but he gets up multiple times a night, is constantly shifting positions, moves, jumps on and off and basically is killing my sleep cycle. And the solution? I’m not sure there is one. I’m a sucker for him. Q thinks it’s hilarious that I let two 15-pound dogs rule my life. But I like being snuggled with!

Breakfast – 10:00AM

Homemade torta: 2 eggs, swiss chard, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper baked in puff pastry. We normally eat it for dinner at our house, but I was craving it for breakfast and I figured it had eggs in it, so it could be a breakfast food right? It’s also something other than oatmeal for those of you who have been getting bored :)

Lunch – 3:00PM

I met my mom at Short Order at the Farmer’s Market for lunch. Short Order is a new restaurant from restaurant queen Nancy Silverton along with the late Amy Pressman. The restaurant serves burgers and fries made with Farmer’s Market fresh meat and produce and the food was insane. My mom ordered the Frisee Lardon (hamburger, fried egg, frisee, bacon) and I got the Non-Animal Style Burger (two chickpea patties, harissa, yogurt sauce, cucumbers and lettuce). My mom loved hers and mine was amazing too (basically like a fresh falafel sandwich). Their weekend brunch also looks amazing and I will definitely be returning to try it.

Dinner – 7:30PM

Because of the late and filling lunch, I had a green juice and a cookie. I think it’s hilarious that I paired the two, but my sweet tooth was calling. And I was feeling guilty for eating basically no greens all day.

Hope everyone enjoyed the Leap Day today!!

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