Summer = Food Fests & Ice Cream

Bonjour, mes beaux amis!food gps rib festival 2014, los angeles, bbq, barbecue, ribs, salt and straw, scarpetta, corazon y miel, picnik, spice table, mexicali taco and co, escala, portland, ice cream, summer, summertime food, food festival, In the last ten years, Los Angeles has grown into its own right as a true culinary destination with never-ending choices of cuisine.  Aside from our proud food truck heritage, LA has also become known for its food festivals, and the list of new summer festivals celebrating food keeps growing.  There’s the Grilled Cheese Invitational, the LA Taco Festival, the LA Street Food Festival, and most recently the first annual FoodGPS Rib Festival. Continue reading

DineLA Restaurant Week In Session!

Bonjour, mes beaux amis!dineLA, restaurant week, los angeles, dine LA, american express, amex, dining, restaurants, summer, discounted menus, new restaurantsIt’s that time again – DineLA’s Restaurant Week!!  I cannot wait to check out a few old favorites who I haven’t visited in a long time, like AOC, Craft & Piccolo, and I’m also looking forward to checking out the newer kids on the block like Willie Jane, Night + Market, and The Wallace.

No matter what your dining-out budget, you can find some great deals during DineLA’s Restaurant Week.  Continue reading

Biênvenue, République.

Bonjour, mes beaux amis!

It’s an early Saturday morning here in LA, and it’s going to be a busy weekend for me with all of the wedding stuff.  But my better half and I kicked off the weekend perfectly with a Friday night dinner date at LA’s République.  We’re still talking about it – and planning our next visit.

Continue reading

{Bits+Bytes for the Weekend}

Bonjour, mes beaux amis!

It’s a short week for us in the US since Friday is the 4th of July.  This weekend my other half and I decided to take it easy this weekend for some time to catch our breath after lots of recent travel, work and general chaos.  Some of that ‘take it easy’ time will include some reading (I’m about 3/4 done with Philip K. Dick’s The Man In the High Castle), as well as catching up on some TV/movie watching!

.And hopefully we squeeze in a few healthy activities too – which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to share my Breakfast Boost smoothie recipes! Here’s the first of a few recipes I’ve been tweaking:

Continue reading

{On A Questlove for Fun}

Bonjour, mes beaux amis!

If you’re here in the US, you are most likely gearing up for your 4th of July weekend, hopefully filled with plans of barbecues, outdoor fun, friends & family, and of course catching some fireworks somewhere.  So to help you get through these last couple days before the holiday, I thought I’d share a couple exciting events happening here in Los Angeles, as well as a personal task that I’m adding to my ‘to-do’ list.  That personal task may involve lots of hoop-jumping and most likely a number of LESS-than-likely scenarios, but hey – a girl can try!

First, here’s a list of some exciting happenings in Los Angeles during this holiday weekend! Continue reading

{Ready for the Sporty Weekend Ahead}

Bonjour, mes beaux amis!!

The weekend is here, and whether or not you’re an avid sports fanatic, the casual spectator or the one tuned out person at the watercooler (do offices still have watercoolers?), there’s no denying that this weekend will bring a TRIFECTA of sports!!  (I hear there will also be golf this weekend, but really, does anybody watch golf, or merely have it on the TV while they nap??)

Here’s my rundown! Continue reading

Mother’s Little Helper

Bonjour, mes bons amis!!

Have you ever felt like your body, and consequently your mind and heart somewhat too, were a bit out of sorts?  Recently I had mentioned that my sleeping habits have been changing, and doing something I was absolutely professional at and thoroughly loved, is now so much more challenging.  I’ve purchased new pricey pillows ($100 for 2 pillows convinced me they had to be great, right?), I make sure to keep the temperature cool in my bedroom, I’ve taken relaxing baths at night – I’ve even stopped watching anything scary or suspenseful after dark.  And yet, just like Mick so famously sang, at times I find myself running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper…

valium, mothers little helper, medication, self-medication, anxiety, pills, pill popping, drug addiction, vintage prescription advertisement, valium ad

Mother’s little helper, helping for over 50 years… (img: stayfreemagazine)

Let’s not get dramatic now – I’m not popping pills or the such.  But I can tell you that I understand how some people desperate for some relief end up falling down that rabbit hole.  Some believe that contrary to the plethora of technology to make life easier and give back more personal time, we’re actually being DRAINED of time.

So what to do… I thought about this on my way into work this morning.  What is it that truly reinvigorates and resets the mind, body and soul?  Besides the obvious big-budget vacation ideas, what small things can we do to feel like we’ve found the shelter of mother’s little helper?  Here are a few of my best ideas:

  1. Don’t overbook yourself in one day, one week or one month.  This is somewhat an obvi tip, and yet everyone is guilty of ignoring it.  We pack our days as full as possible with meetings, conference calls, appointments, dinners, drinks, showers… the list never ends.  And of course, all of these things are wonderful and enjoyable in and of themselves.  But if you’re like me, too many scheduled events in one day, week or month is disastrous.
  2. Instead of over-extending yourself to others, make sure you book personal time.  For every 2-3 events for others, formally book a personal event, just to treat yourself – a mani/pedi, massage, facial, some shopping time, beach/pool/outdoors time, a hike.  And make the appointment in your calendar, just like you would a meeting or conference call.  And definitely keep the appointment.  You deserve it!

    mother's little helper, personal time, me time, vacation, pool, pool time, negril, jamaica, spa, relaxation, relaxing, getaway, weekend getaway, caribbean, tropical

    don’t flake on your Me-Time appointments!

  3. Cook your favorite meal or dish – for yourself.  I came home one evening this week and made myself breakfast because bacon, eggs and hashbrowns all sounded so good, even if it was 8pm.  It was my own little treat!
  4. Make yourself MORE tired – but in a great way with a nice long hike or walk, and preferably in sunlight if possible.  The vitamin D from the sunlight will naturally help lift your spirits, and the warmth from the light exercise will help relax tense muscles in the neck, shoulders and back.  And by the end, you will probably be a bit more tired than usual and ready to enjoy a nice long night of sleep afterward.

    abalone cove, rancho palos verdes, hiking, mothers little helper, stress relief, tide pools, southern california beaches, los angeles beaches, travel, cliffs

    Abalone Cove is one of SoCal’s greatest gems – perfect for a day hike to the tide pools!

  5. How many times have you thought to yourself how much you would love perusing the local museum, local garden or park in your city on a weekday when there are no crowds?  Why not take a day off from work, and spend the day doing one or two of those things you don’t get to do more often!  Check your local museums’ schedules – most offer discounted or even free admission on specific days/times, so take advantage! (LACMA is free after 3pm for LA residents; and you can visit the Huntington Botanical Gardens on their Free Days!)
    LACMA, los angeles museums, los angeles contemporary museum of art, urban light exhibit, mothers little helper, relaxing, staycation, vacation, los angeles, southern california getaways, discount admission, free admission

    LACMA’s Urban Light outdoor exhibit (img: LACMA)

    The Huntington, Huntington Botanical Gardens, rose garden, relaxation, staycation, vacation, southern california getaways, mothers little helper

    Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, CA are perfect for a relaxing day (img: The Huntington)

What little things do you do to help escape life’s little stresses and return to find your center once again?

Enjoy the rest of your week, mes beaux amis!!

♥ – LBH

Enhanced by Zemanta

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

Bonjour, bons amis!!

You may remember the above title as a line in a little show called Sesame Street sung many times by different characters.

Today I must share a story with you because in light of the state of the world today, I feel that this story is much needed.  In the words of the ever-wise Forrest Gump, life really is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.  And yesterday truly proved that true, once again.

You see, yesterday morning, I had the displeasure initially turned to great pleasure ultimately of frantically searching for my dog who had run off through an open gate unbeknownst to me in a blink of an eye…

IMG_0699

the culprit, Mr. Bings’ mugshot…

Being the Boston Terror Terrier that he is, he also managed to find the tiniest of fence holes behind my property, burrowing to find that elusive squirrel, and ended up one block away in a matter of seconds.  However, I didn’t know this for nearly two and a half hours.

I couldn’t quite comprehend how an animal could merely vanish and not respond to my cries.  I could have cared less about work for those two and a half hours, and like a crackhead panicked to find her pusher, lines of smeared mascara streaming down my cheeks from the constant flow of tears, squeak-toy in hand and voice going hoarse from yelling “Bings-y, com’on!!!” over and over again, I walked up and down the streets of my lovely little neighborhood known as Wilshire Vista.  It’s a small quiet residential area with lots of young couples, new families, older families, professionals – the whole gamete.  My neighbors walk their dogs and push strollers throughout the day, leisurely visiting the nearby small businesses along Pico, taking advantage of the slight incline for some exercise, and enjoying the small pocket of Los Angeles that we call home.  This neighborhood took on a completely different form for me during those two and a half panicked hours.

the neighborhood looks so different walking through yards and streets on foot.

the neighborhood looks so different walking through yards and streets on foot…

I saw backyards and car porches I had never seen, and neatly manicured backyards that I was walking through like a utilities worker.  It was mostly very quiet as most people had left in the middle of my tearful search, so no one really cared that I was walking in and out of properties, looking for my dog.  But those strange faces that did see me in my state of panic as I tearfully asked them if they had seen the dog named Bings in the picture I showed on my iPhone no longer became just the unfamiliar faces I saw now and then in passing everyday.  They were no longer ‘just the guy who lives a block up and drives that grey car,’ or ‘the woman with the cute black chihuahua she walks off-leash on the corner,’ or the woman who chats on her cell phone while walking her dogs around the block.  Suddenly, they were there offering comfort, compassion and their help, to me – a stranger to them.

I had passed one of these neighbors a block away earlier in my search, yelling Bings’ name with a cracking voice, and about ten minutes later she caught up to me as I made my fifth round on my own street.  She could tell I had lost my dog, and she immediately offered her help.  She asked me to send her those couple pictures I showed her of my dog because she was going to send those to our neighborhood councilwoman (I didn’t even know who that was!) so that she could put out a bulletin to the neighborhood via email.  Her immediate action and kindness touched me so much that it brought me to more tears of gratitude, and I now feel like I have made a new neighbor friend.  And my other new neighbor friend who actually found and kept my dog safe for those couple hours, Carl, was just the nicest man ever.  He tolerated and entertained my crazy dog (who picked a fight with Carl’s own dog – ugh… so embarrassing!!!), and Carl still fed Bings a handful of food during his brief unsolicited visit.  But Carl’s good humor and kindness, along with Robin’s, the lovely girl with the black Chihuahua on the corner, the nice dentist walking from his house to his office at the corner, the local Eco Dog Wash grooming place and the MiracleMileLA twitter account that were both kind enough to send out a social network blast about Bings, and every other face I came across during my dog-hunt were so humbling and heartwarming.  I’ve never felt so happy to be a part of my neighborhood, and I’ve never felt like these strangers who I pass in and out everyday weren’t so strange to me anymore.  They were just like me – dog-owners who’ve lost a pet before, Wilshire Vista residents living their lives but caring enough to take care of their neighbors, especially in times of need.  And I can’t thank them enough.

Yesterday was an extremely small and yet extremely big experience for me.  It made me realize that even in this big city of 13 million + people, I need to be kind to my neighbors near me and vigilant for them, because, clearly, they are kind to me and vigilant for me.

I will leave you today with this experience, and I hope it warms your heart the way it has mine.  I ♥ Wilshire Vista!

– ♥ LBH

the original ad for the Wilshire Vista neighborhood development (image courtesy of my neighbor’s blog, EllenBloom.blogspot.com)

A Sure Bet In Santa Monica

Bonjour, bon ami!!!

The last week has been quite crazy and chaotic, and it has kept me away from my blog.  So much has happened, both good, bad and other.  The GREAT news is my mom is feeling better, and we’re hopeful that the doctors can find the cause and best treatment for her blood pressure.  But I’m so very excited about some incredible recent developments!!  My career path has taken a most amazing slight shift towards another one of my biggest passions: music.  So get ready for some fab blog posts about my passion for awesome music, which goes so well with my fashion, design and art loves.

During my week of absence, the boy and I dined at Jiraffe (yes, with a “J”), a fabulous Santa Monica restaurant that should definitely be added to your go-to list for LA dining.

jiraffe restaurant los angeles DineLA california french fusion santa monica giraffe
{jiraffe}

**Apologies for the low quality images – I only had my camera phone with me while dining, but I can assure you the quality of the food was exponentially better than it looks!! 🙂

Jiraffe has been a Santa Monica sure bet for dining since 1996.  Offering a delicious and inspired menu of French dishes with local Californian influence, Jiraffe manages to pleasantly surprise diners with unexpected and unpretentious flavor combinations.  Here are the mouth-watering DineLA play-by-plays:

crispy potato wrapped big eye tuna appetizer prix fixe dineLA restaurant week jiraffe french california fusion cuisine santa monica
{crispy potato wrapped big eye tuna}

~ delicious with some great unexpected flavor combinations.  Great start to the meal.

stuffed vermont quail mashed potatoes appetizer prix fixe dineLA restaurant week jiraffe french california fusion cuisine santa monica
{stuffed vermont quail over mashed potatoes}

~ perfectly cooked, tender and tantalizing… should have been called an appe-teaser!

wild mushroom and aged gouda ravioli entree prix fixe dineLA restaurant week jiraffe french california fusion cuisine santa monica
{wild mushroom & aged gouda ravioli}

~ although the raviolis are hard to see in my poor photo, I can tell you they were wonderful.  The earthy combination of the mushroom and gouda in a blanket of creamy sauce was delectable.

scottish salmon caponatta entree prix fixe dineLA restaurant week jiraffe french california fusion cuisine santa monica
{scottish salmon caponatta}

~ the salmon was light and moist, and the caponatta sauce was an explosion of fresh basil, parsley, garlic and lemon.  I wanted to lick the plate clean.

choolate truffle cake mousse dessert prix fixe dineLA restaurant week jiraffe french california fusion cuisine santa monica
{chocolate truffle cake}

~ it was like warm molten lava cake, but lighter and not as overpoweringly sweet. Heaven.

fresh baked chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches dessert prix fixe dineLA restaurant week jiraffe french california fusion cuisine santa monica
{fresh baked chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches}

~ moist cookies and creamy ice cream.  We were just missing the cold milk!

caramelized banana cream pie dessert prix fixe dineLA restaurant week jiraffe french california fusion cuisine santa monica
{caramelized banana cream pie}

~ this was by far one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time.  And this is coming from a proud chocola-holic.  I could eat this dessert everyday.  The bananas weren’t overly ripe or sweet, the cream filling light, and the crust was flaky and perfect.  It was all just perfect!

In case you wondered, the waiter brought the one dessert we didn’t order on the prix fixe menu, but said it was ours to enjoy anyway.  We certainly didn’t NEED the extra dessert, but we definitely didn’t turn it away either!  Not to be forgotten or overlooked was the excellent service we also received.  Our waiter was pleasant and warm, and made our wonderful evening all the more wonderful.

On your next trip to LA, be sure to swing by Jiraffe for a guaranteed fabulous meal.  I can’t wait to get back there soon.  And as a matter of fact, my new career path has brought me within blocks of Jiraffe – this could be a bad great thing!!

See you there for dinner, bon ami!!

LBH

Eighth Time’s A Charm…

Bonjour, bon ami!!!  Happy February!!!

I hope your first month of 2012 was a great start to a great new year!  January was definitely eventful – lots of home improvement and organization projects, and even though I still have some work to finish, I am extremely happy about what I’ve accomplished thus far.  After Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll have my Sundays back to finish up more of the projects on the list!

Meanwhile, here in LA we’ve been celebrating DineLA Restaurant Week for the last week, something I’m always looking forward to.  Last night’s treat was an exclusive dinner at one of LA’s hottest nomadic eateries, LudoBites 8.  Although not a participant in DineLA, this is the eighth iteration of the pop-up restaurant.  For any who aren’t familiar with the name Ludo Lefebvre, he was a featured Top Chef Master during its second season, and locally in LA he has been known as a French culinary genius-slash-down to earth rockstar for over ten years.

Thus, until this eighth round of pop-ups, getting a seat or two meant being ready at your computer on the day and minute that reservations opened, and refreshing your page over and over again, hoping you could be a lucky winner (a la Ticketmaster!!).  But FINALLY… my number was called and I was fortunate enough to be one of the 5% who successfully snagged a reservation via raffle (BEST and most fair idea thus far).  LB8 definitely proved to me why this reservation was SOOO difficult to come by.  And the wait was worth it: check out the mouth-watering pictures below!!!

ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week menu
{delectable menu}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week scallops truffles
{bay scallops with truffle}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week monkfish liver cucumber pickled mustard seeds
{monkfish, cornichons, mustard seeds}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week big eye tuna somen noodles delicious
{my favorite: big eye tuna over somen noodles with Tahitian vanilla}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week wagyu beef carpaccio raw pickled radish snow sliced red white beets eel
{wagyu beef carpaccio with radish snow}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week brioche sweet yuzu butter delicious
{brioche with yuzu butter}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week jidori chicken parmesan foam walnut sauce tender juicy delicious
{jidori half chicken with parmesan foam}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week
{pop-up kitchen & great staff}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week
{lemon moon, host of LudoBites 8}
ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week light fixtures
{moon-like light fixtures, appropriately so…}

ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week kitchenludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week kitchen

ludobites ludo bites 8 chef ludo lefebvre pop up restaurant los angeles lemon moon dineLA restaurant week
{executive chef and gracious host Ludo Lefebvre}

 If you happen to get an opportunity to try Ludo Bites during a future iteration, you will thoroughly enjoy it.  The flavor profiles were delightful and very unexpected, a combination of classic with new, all on a platter free from pretentiousness.  AND for those in or around LA, you can always chase down Ludo’s food truck for a taste of his talent.

I have a couple more restaurants on my DineLA list this week, and I can’t wait to share more delicious greatness with you!!

Until then, bon ami, have a wonderful week!!!

LBH