Thursday, March 28, 2013

Saturday Happiest Hour


Last Saturday in the late afternoon, Van and I were deciding how we wanted to spend our Saturday night. We had originally planned to use a gift certificate birthday present from his parents, at the amazing Providence restaurant. However, after Van checked the menu, we decided that we wanted to move the reservation, so that we could attend a special lunch with wine pairings that the restaurant does only on Fridays. Don't worry- in a couple of weeks, after the lunch, I will be blogging about it.

So, we decided to check out Saturday Happy hours in our hood. After a quick Yelp search, we saw a bar that we hadn't really noticed or been to before named: "Jay's Bar", aptly named for the owner, Jay. The bar is situated in a strip-mall in Silverlake, walking distance from our apartment, and in the same complex as where Van get's his haircuts and I get at my amazing blowouts at Jun Encarnacion International Beauty Salon. Apparently Jay also owns Garage Pizza, which is in the same complex. I've never had the pizza, so can't comment on it.

Anyways, we noticed that the happy hour was from 4pm-7pm eveyday, with specials on both drinks and foods, so we decided to give it a try.

*Pro-tip* If you check-in to the bar on Yelp, you also receive 25% off of your first order. Boo-ya.

So yeah, we walked over and conveniently noticed the sandwich board on the sidewalk outside.
The sandwich board outside- it kind of looks like I'm grappling for something. :)
We sauntered up to the bar, and found seats immediately, as it wasn't too crowded at 5pm on a Saturday, which we liked. A few people were at tables in the restaurant, and a few were on their lap-tops, also for sports fans, there are two huge big-screen TV's that are apparently always playing whatever game you sports-lovers want to watch. The interior had a clean design, and was super comfortable. We really liked it.
One of the TV screens.
Unfortunately, there is no liquor yet- just wine and beer for now, but they are getting their liquor license really soon. As you probably know, I'm more of a wine drinker, as opposed to beer, but since there were so many beers on tap, I wanted to give one a try.

Typically, I like either white beers or porters, and our bar tender was super friendly and knowledgeable and let us try different tastes of a couple of options. Eventually, I chose to start with a white beer, and Van had an IPA, shocker.

And the two of us...
We also wanted to try some of the food, since apparently Yelp has labeled the bar a dive bar/ (questionable- it is in a strip mall, but it's not at all "divey" on the inside) gastropub. From the happy hour menu we ordered the poutine, since I had never really tried it, even though I know my Canadian friends love it. If you don't know what it is, think french fries and cheese curds in gravy. Good. And we also wanted to try the chicken wings from the happy hour menu:
Ain't no thing, but a chicken wing.
Both food items were really solid and delicious. I think we both liked the chicken wings a little bit more than the poutine, but glad we tried it. Also, for another time, I've heard the burgers are amazing.

So yeah, if you're looking for a cool little bar in Silverlake, with a great beer selection, excellent food and and awesome happy hour, then Jay's could be it. We definitely enjoyed our experience, and will be back. Also, you can get a great deal on a haircut next door.

xoM

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oysters on the Half Shell

I'm always looking for outings that combine my two favorite things: Wine & Seafood. I recently learned through my glorious Facebook feed that a local wine and beer bar/shop in Atwater Village, 55 Degree Wine, has an oyster night on the first Tuesday of every month. Basically those were the only two things I needed to know: that there would be oysters for $2/each and wine pairings. I was in.

Van and I arrived approximately a half hour after the event began in the evening, (fashionably late) and had never been to the location before.  It's located on the left on Glendale Blvd. as you are entering Atwater Village from Silverlake. Trendy, trendy. When we arrived we first saw a wine/beer store with only a few people milling around, and wondered if we were in the right location. When we asked about the oysters, we were told to go downstairs into a dimly lit, intimate, warm, brick basement. Very sexy vibe, with friendly service. We were immediately seated, and told that the oysters were in another little room downstairs.

I quickly recognized the two guys who were selling oysters, as the Oyster Boys from the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market. Oh yes, I knew this was going to be good. Below is the menu that we had to choose from:
And the oysters, in all of their glory:

I don't like my oysters too briny, I like them small and sweet- so Van and I chose a selection of 7 each to start, and then may have gone back for 3 more each. You do the math...what can I say, I LOVE oysters, and the Oysters Boys are extremely friendly and knowledgeable - you just want to support them! In the iconic words of the belated ODB, "Ooh Baby, I like it raw." Van's favorite oyster was the Hood Canal, and I preferred the Kumamoto.
We paired the oysters with a Sauvignon Blanc for me and a Rose for Van. We also wanted to try something from the 55 Degree Wine kitchen, so we also split the cheese plate. It did not disappoint.
So yeah, basically I can't wait for April and to have another wine and oyster night. It was a fabulous experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves wine and oysters.
xxM

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ace'd

Last week my friend Leah and I decided to take a quick girls trip to get out of LA for 24 hrs. to Palm Springs. It was also because we were picking up Leah's lovely sista who was there with her boyfriend's family. We scoured the Internets looking for a good price on a hotel room, and had decided between either staying at the Saguaro or the Ace Hotel. I had stayed at the Ace once before with another friend and really liked the dog-friendly, relaxed vibe. I also liked the aesthetic and design of the hotel and how comfortable it felt. Staying there also helped me to fill my hipster quota for the year. :)

I decided to call the Ace to see what types of room rates were available, as opposed to just looking online. Luckily, they were offering a "Summer Special" - which was basically a regular room with a king-sized bed and a bucket of beer (read: 4 Lagers) for $100, I think it also included a spa credit that we didn't end up using.  Uh-mazing. I immediately booked the room, and definitely recommend this deal, hopefully it will be going all Summer!
The Ace- Palm Springs

We made it to the desert in less than two hours from Los Angeles, absolutely no traffic, which was pretty amazing, and although we couldn't check into our room until 2pm, we immediately got cocktails and brunch at the hotel restaurant and spent the day at the pool.
Prosecco for me, and a Margarita for Leah.
A shot of the pool nestled in the mountains.

We also decided to explore the grounds, and take photos- two things I love doing.

We stumbled upon this super cool wall, and had to strike a pose: Girls in Red.
Loved experimenting with colors with my new camera.

Even though we were just there for one night, it was a perfect and affordable get-away, and very close to the city, but also just far enough away.

Below is the view from our room at dusk.
Thanks for the ideal get-away Ace, I'll be back. Next time with Lola.

xoM

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Abbot Kinney Love

Admittedly we don't frequent the west side of LA , or take advantage of the beach cities as much as we probably should. I love the ocean, but it's a trek and traffic can make the entire traveling experience frustrating and annoying. I'll put it this way...the 101 to the 110 to the 10 to the 405. In other words, 2 hours to Venice beach on a weekend...kill me.

Anyways, Van and I ventured out of our normal area for dinner last night, with the help of a very generous gift certificate from Van's sisters for his birthday.  We ate at a delicious restaurant on Abbot Kinney named The Tasting Kitchen. We had to make reservations a couple of weeks in advance, and the best time we could get for a Saturday night was 6:45pm, but it was fine.  We found street parking on Venice Blvd., which was free until 10pm, and provided a nice little walk to the restaurant  flanked on one side by a boutique and the other side a sushi restaurant. Lemonade is also only a couple of doors down, so lots of people-watching.
Restaurant exterior and blurry Van.
We arrived at the restaurant, and because we had reservations were immediately seated. The interior was lovely - dimly lit, with olive trees and twinkling white lights.  Although it wasn't precious by any means. This was evidenced by the late 90's/early 2000's steady beat of rap music that played the entire night. I'm not complaining as the Chronic 2001 is one of my favorite albums of all time, and who doesn't like chair dancing to Tupac, I'm just not sure it would be everyone's cup of tea.  Definitely a trendy vibe inside as well.

Our server was exceptional, and although we chose to bring our own bottle of wine, ($35 corkage FYI) we began with a cocktail and olives. I was feeling daring, so instead of my favorite spirit of choice, vodka, I chose a gin cocktail named The English Garden: gin, fennel, cucumber. Yes. Van ordered a tequila drink, called a Valkryerie, we also started with olives of course. My fav.
Green Olives.

Moi avec English Garden.

English Garden
Unfortunately my new camera was malfunctioning last night, so I had to rely on my trusty iPhone, so that's why the photos aren't quite as clear. Also, it's a constant struggle when out with Van about my flash going off in a dimly lit restaurant- but I don't know what else to do?! I love foodie pix, you dig?

Next, we ordered a clam/chorizo dish - unfortunately no photos. Then decided to split two pastas, yes- it was a lot of food. I should add that the clams and olives were incredibly, but the pasta is made in-house and sometimes there is nothing better than fresh pasta. We split a ravioli (one large one- stuffed with egg and ricotta) see below (again, these photos don't do it justice.)
Ravioli with ricotta and egg.

And a Gigli, Luciana, Squash blossom dish- very delicious too, but I definitely preferred the ravioli dish.
Gigli, luciana and squash blossom

Finally, it was a belated birthday celebration, (kind-of?) so we HAD to order dessert. We chose to go with the Milk and Honey, based on a recommendation from our server.
Rich, but very tasty and well-portioned. Van won the "no-flash" battle on this one, so I just have a dark image.
Milk and Honey Dessert.

Apparently the head chef and restaurant owner is from Portland, so I like that Pacific Northwest connection as well. All and all the meal was rich, tasty and definitely fulfilling  Obviously a bit on the pricey side, but the gift certificate was very generous- thanks sistas!

It was also fun to explore Venice a bit, and walk around the Abbot Kinney area, which is so cute and trendy these days. We definitely enjoyed our night out on the West-side. Until next time Venezia.

xxM


Friday, March 8, 2013

Flowa Powa- Wedding Style

It hit me today that Van and I have been married for 9 months already- tomorrow. Whoa. Time flies. Embarrassingly, I still have not done anything with the majority of my professional wedding photos. Fail. There's like 2,000 and I'm a little overwhelmed, ok?! But really, I should make it my goal to create a photo album before June 9th, 2013. I.can.do.it.

I was reminiscing about my whole wedding experience with a girlfriend yesterday, bachelorette party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, etc. etc. And wanted to write a little about my wedding flowers experience, and the beautiful Cyin sisters who helped make my dream a reality. I really hope they get a website soon!

Designing my floral bouquets, corsages, wristlets and guestbook center piece was a really cool experience for me, because I was able to be a part of the entire process.  It started with developing a budget, to getting up at 4:30am on a Saturday a couple of weeks before the actual wedding, and picking out the types of flowers and colors that I wanted to work with from the LA Flower Market in downtown LA. If you haven't been yet- I HIGHLY recommend it. The early bird gets the worm in this case, Eunice, Monica and I literally had to leave Orange County at around 5:30am/6:00am to get there very early, before all of the good flowers were taken. :)  The flower market is where a lot of local florists, hotels, caterers get their flowers, wholesale, and they are as fresh and beautiful as can be.

Although the Flower Market can be a little overwhelming if you don't know what you're doing- I was with professionals, and Eunice and Monica knew just where to go to find the best flowers, rhinestones, ribbon, pins, tape, wire and everything else we needed.

I knew that I wanted to go with a red, pink and cream theme and wanted mostly roses with some peonies, (pro tip: peonies are very expensive!) So we scoured the market for bunches that were the right color and size. Below is a pic of some of our haul, (immediately put in water), when we got back to Monica's apartment, and the vase I purchased for my guestbook topiary centerpiece.


Next up was the design process.  I left this to Eunice and Monica, as they are the pros, and Eunice used to work in floral design, but it was really cool to see how the process worked from cutting the stems to wrapping the flowers in wire and then ribbon, and then pinning the ribbon and adding in the rhinestones.  Wow- truly an art form. Below are some finished bouquet ideas- I look a little tired, from getting up so early. :)


And Monica holding a bridal bouquet idea and flower girl bunch.


Finally, we (and when I say "we" I mean Monica and Eunice) worked a bit on the design of the wristlets/corsages, all under Diablo's watchful eye.


So yeah, that was the shortened basic process of my beautiful wedding flowers! Then they did all of this again, the day before my wedding- to make sure all of the flowers were fresh.

And the final result was completely perfect for us. Thank you so much ladies- you truly helped make 06-09-12 special, and I loved being a part of the process from beginning to end.  Now, get yourselves a floral website...Cyin City Designs!
xxM

Monday, March 4, 2013

Diirty 3-0...not me, don't age me.

Hot damn...it has been a minute. How is it already March 3rd?! Hmmm, well let's see, if anybody is still reading this because it has been the most inconsistent blog lately, I want to say that it is my belated New Year's resolution to write at least once a week. I want to do this because I love doing it, and it makes me happy- and yes, sometimes life gets away from me, but I really did miss is, and I PROMISE not to neglect it ever, ever again.

Speaking of the new year, my lovely husband, turned... the big 3-0 in January, crazy right?! I'm not too far behind, 2013 is my glorious last year in my 20's. Scary- kind-of.

Anyways, if you know me, you know that I love wine-tasting. It's my thing, it's my bag, it's what I love, and luckily so does my husband. For his birthday we decided to take a weekend trip to beautiful Paso Robles  with four of our very good friends: Bryan, Donna, Ted and Kacy...oh and Peanut!
Here's a before pic of the group:
The Birthday Crew!
 We visited four wineries that day, this photo was taken at our first stop Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines. This was our first time at this vineyard, and the grounds were breathtaking, sunny but not too warm.
Wine storage and tree
Close-up of above tree- very knarly

Birthday Boy

Vineyards
Soaking up the rays
We really liked this place, next up we visited Shale Oak Winery, which had a really cool mid-century modern vibe, and a lot of cork products for sale.  Peanut somehow also managed to find her way up to the second floor without us knowing.  Nice. Then, we were on to port tasting...mmmm, which I have recently developed a taste for in the last couple of years. Van and I joined a Port club in December, and took the group to a free tasting at Roxo Port Cellars.  Finally, we were on to the last stop of the day, my all-time favorite, Tablas Creek! Love everything about this place, the setting, the employees, the vibe, it really is my happy place and just the right way to end of the day of wine-tasting. I highly recommend TC, if that isn't apparent- seriously, skip Napa next time and try Paso Robles for something new. It will not disappoint.

**BONUS PIC**
These boys have been friends since middle school- cute huh? This is them, a little hung-over at brunch the next morning.
Bryan, Van and Trodes