Food! Food! Food!

Curtis Stone’s fingers sprinkled this Foie Gras with asparagus dust at last weekend’s food fest in LA!

Everyone knows what a foodie I am! I love to eat and explore new restaurants and LA is quickly earning its place on the food map! There are new restaurants popping up every week and events like last weekends food tasting called The Essentials with over 50 of LA’s hottest restaurants offering bites of their best fare. Our first stop was at the Maude booth where Curtis Stone himself was serving up a delicious and beautiful Foie Gras. It was so much fun! Here are a bunch of food trends, new restaurants and good eats for 2015!

Photo by Wade Hammond

Chef Trends of 2015 from CPK Chef Brian Sullivan

Do me a flavor and flavor my salt Infused with anything from pinot noir to fresh herbs, chile, citrus, Sriracha, Jack Daniels, dried mushrooms, coffee and muchmore. Garnish a piece of meat, add a surprising salt rim to your cocktail or make a few jars to give to mom for Christmas.

Eggs on eggs on eggs Fried eggs might be the new bacon next year in the sense that they will be on everything. Pizza, burgers, ramen, salads, French fries…2015 will be the year of the chicken.

 Ancient grains, growing up without growing old Ancient grains have been around for as long as it sounds, but they can be used in so many different ways that they can be continually reinvented. From farro to quinoa, these super grains add an abundance of nutrients and variety to a meal.

Excuse me sir, there’s an avocado in my cocktail Culinary cocktails will continue to be big and we’ve only tapped the tip of the ice bin with ingredients like avocado puree, candied ginger, cucumber, fresh berries and herbs and beyond. Also, keep an eye out for more hand-crafted, non-alcoholic beverages. No alcohol, no problem.

You get more bees with infused honey Infusions are the perfect example of how creative you can get with different but complimentary flavors in unexpected ways. From the bold, balanced spiciness of Chipotle or Serrano honeys to the delicate sweetness of lavender honey, the options here are sure to be sweet.

Where is my food coming from? Local sourcing will continue its rise of relevance and importance, because the demand for real, fresh and healthful food as never been higher. Another important factor in sourcing is sustainability – for example, sourcing fish from areas that are not overfished or growing your own herbs.

 Produce, Produce, Produce The more unexpected and rare, the better. Heirloom carrots of purple, yellow and pale white add a unique twist to an old favorite. Peppery red watercress or bitter greens totally amp up the flavor in a salad. And speaking of salad, baby kale has unseated its leafy big sister as the new organic star.

Veggies roasting in an open hearth (Jack Frost nipping at your nose)How you cook something can be just as exciting as what you are cooking. Roasting veggies in an open hearth produces a wonderful caramelized texture and flavor. And it’s not just veggies. Roasting fish and meat in a hearth, as opposed to grilling or searing, is a great way to achieve slow-building, intense flavor, without over-drying.


From unique dishes to spacious outdoor patios, here are the top 5 dog-friendly restaurants in Los Angeles from founder Jennifer Fernandes:

1.Alcove Café & Bakery: Cozy up in the Alcove café located in two historic bungalows serving updated versions of American classics, hand-crafted cocktails and artisan baked goods. Also, enjoy some smooth alcove-original chocolate while your dog enjoys the surrounding garden patios.

2.The Oinkster: Classic fast food favorites with high quality flavors from The Oinkster in a relaxed and modern atmosphere and has been featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Known for their juicy burgers, crispy Belgium fries and other American classics, The Oinkster is a pet friendly favorite for local dog owners.

3.The Waffle: A stylishly modern eatery in the center of Hollywood, The Waffle serves innovative and exciting dishes in a “comforts of home” environment. They specialize in waffles for you and “woofles” for your pet to enjoy on the giant breezy patio.

4.BLD: BLD Stands for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a true neighborhood spot for locals and visitors. BLD serves simple and delicious comfort food throughout the day with friendly service and welcoming outdoor seating for pets.

5.Eveleigh: Featuring a seasonal farm-to-table approach, Eveleigh is a neighborhood restaurant and bar with artisan cocktails offered by the pitcher. They offer a special weekend brunch and pet friendly patio for families to gather on Sunset Blvd. and enjoy the city.


For serious foodies mapping out their next Michelin-rated dining experience, Michelin has created a new series of premium maps to quickly find the top-rated restaurants listed in the latest editions of the U.S. MICHELIN Guides Right now they have one for New York, Chicago and San Francisco. $9.95


As the world’s leading luxury food magazine, FOUR has revealed the Top Ten Restaurant list as a reflection of the essence of fine dining. FOUR’s acclaimed list includes dining venues that are located across the continents. Featuring restaurants in North America, Europe and Asia:

#1 | Eleven Madison Park | Daniel Humm
#2 | André | André Chiang
#3 | Hof Van Cleve Restaurant | Peter Goossens
#4 | Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare | César Ramirez
#5 | Il Mosaico | Nino di Costanzo
#6 | Fäviken | Magnus Nilsson
#7 | La Vie Restaurant | Thomas Bühner
#8 | Sushi Shikon | Yoshiharu Kakinuma
#9 | Steirereck Restaurant | Heinz Reitbauer
#10 | Per Se | Thomas Keller


Last but not least…airport food! For a long time LAX has been seriously behind the times when it came to good, interesting food that was a reflection of the great city. Now, they have finally updated some of the terminals like the Tom Bradley International Terminal where you can find Petrossian, a Champagne and Caviar bar. Terminal 4 has a Kogi BBQ food truck and Terminal 5 has a Loteria Grill. My favorite smaller airport, The Long Beach Airport, recently got a makeover and has a wide variety of local food to choose from including a wine bar. I would highly recommend flying through there any chance you can!


Celebrate the Holidays at Baleen Kitchen

Photo by Gloria Plascencia
We recently visited the waterfront Baleen Kitchen in Redondo Beach to check out their new menu. Fresh, holiday libations started off the evening! This is the Anti-Oxident Mojito with Appleton Rum, Pomegranate juice, muddled blackberry, raspberry and mint. Cheers!

Mezcalero - Mezcal, Aperol and strawberries.
Photo by Wade Hammond
Mezcalero – Mezcal, Aperol and strawberries.

Photo by Wade Hammond
As a starter we all shared the decadent Duck Carnitas. We had them earlier in the year and have been dreaming of them ever since. They are perfect for the holidays!

Photo by Wade Hammond
The First Course was the Baleen Garden and was delicious. It was baby beets, farrow, tomato, quinoa, avocado, pea shoots, almonds with a soft lime vinaigrette. The texture of the farro, quinoa and almonds made this salad very unique. I would love to eat that for lunch everyday!

Photo by Wade Hammond
The Second Course was a gorgeous Crab Salad full of avocado, haricot vert, and lollo rossa. They use both soft-shell crab and fresh Dungeness for this dish.

Photo by Wade Hammond
The Third Course of Roasted Black Sea Bass with roasted mushrooms and sweet potatoes in a fabulous aromatic broth was so mind blowing that I took half of it home – it was just as amazing the next day!

Photo by Wade Hammond
Last but certainly not least, our Fourth Course was the giant “Tommy Hawk” Rib Eye!

tommy-46Photo by Wade Hammond
The “Tommy Hawk” was quite impressive…tender and delicious!

Photo by Gloria Plascencia
As you can see, a fun night was had by all! Book your upcoming holiday celebration at Baleen Kitchen or stop in for happy hour with snacks and cocktails!

Baleen Kitchen is located in beautiful Redondo Beach, CA at The Portofino Hotel right on the harbor at 260 Portofino Way. (310) 372-1202

Christmas Day they will have their famous À La Carte Brunch and “Build Your Own” Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar from 6:30am-1:00pm. Then a 3-Course Dinner from 1:00pm-10:00pm adults $59 with wine pairing $70/$22 kids.

NYE They will have a fabulous 5-Course Dinner from 5:00pm-11:00pm for $85pp with wine pairing $110.


Friday Faves: Florida Edition


Today I am back in my hometown of Ft.Pierce, Florida for a pre-holiday visit. I decided to come now because it is SO MUCH CHEAPER to fly at this time! I can’t wait to spend time with my family and friends, shop and eat!!! This little town is so beautiful and has so much history. It just took me growing up and moving away to really appreciate it. Here are the things I am most looking forward to doing while I am here and some of my other favorite things this week!

* Eating at all of my favorite places! BBQ at Tillman’s and Dales, pizza at Big Apple, wine tasting at Vine and Barley, and happy hour on the water at The Tiki Bar and Manatee Island!

* Shopping at The Palm Beach Outlets, The Gardens and City Place.

* Hitting up the Saturday Farmers Market in downtown Ft. Pierce for breakfast then shopping for homemade spaghetti sauce, jams, cheese and arts and crafts.

* Boating around the Indian River, and soaking up the sun on the beautiful beaches!

* Being featured on the FIDM blog on Wednesday. What an honor!

* Flip flopping around town in my flopZ that massage my feet as I walk. They feel soo good!

* This week I tried out the most amazing thing called The Pee Pocket that lets women pee standing up. It would be perfect for hiking, backpacking or if you find yourself in a nasty bathroom situation and don’t want to sit or squat (I was in that situation a lot in Vietnam and would of loved to have had these). It sounds intimidating but is so easy to use!

* I discovered an all natural, good smelling deodorant that actually works!

* I have been in a “smoothie rut” for the last year and just got a copy of Power Smoothies. Its full of 165 different fruit and green smoothies to nourish the whole body! It should definitely should inspire me to switch it up!

* I am in love with this perfume sample of Chateau Krigler 12, once worn by Grace Kelly. She is known to have worn the iconic scent on the day she received her Academy Award for Country Girl. Chateau Krigler 12 is an effortlessly exquisite scent characterized by its delicate florals: a well-balanced mélange of Lily of the Valley, Mimosa, White Musc, and graceful Rose. Handcrafted and expertly blended by Krigler’s master perfumers, Chateau Krigler 12 is the eternal signature scent, beloved by royalty and embraced by the modern sophisticate (with a royal price tag). It is on my Holiday Wish List and am savoring ever drop in my sample vile right now!

* We might head to Miami this weekend to checkout Art Basel. I hear from my Miami friends that it’s total chaos but that could be fun!?

What are you up to this weekend? Whatever you do I hope its fun, relaxing and inspiring!


Carmel-By-The-Sea = Cute-As-Can-Be

Wade and I were recently invited to stay at the Hofsas House and experience the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Little did we know, we had never actually been there before. We had been to Carmel, Carmel Valley and even the neighboring 17 Mile Drive which winds through Pebble Beach, but somehow we missed this quaint little 1X1 square mile of food, wine, shopping, beach, art and fun! I am so happy to have had this opportunity because Carmel-by-the-Sea is now one of my favorite places on earth and I can’t wait to go back!

The charming Hofsas House has shared 6 decades of European hospitality with travelers from all over the world!

HH-7This festive mural was done in 1957 by family friend and local artist Maxine Albro and welcomes guests when they arrive. Maxine painted with Diego Rivera and some of her other work can be seen in the lobby and in room 47.

There are 38 Bavarian inspired rooms at The Hofsas House and they are a PET FRIENDLY hotel! We had room 29 which is one of the largest and has 2 bathrooms, a fireplace, a large balcony facing the ocean, a kitchenette and a pull out couch.

The Wine & Cheese package was the perfect way to start our trip after a 5 hour drive! After we settled in we walked a few blocks to The Grill on Ocean Avenue for dinner. It was cozy and delicious. The highlight of the meal was fresh, locally caught Sand Dabs from Monteray Bay.

I really enjoyed relaxing on the spacious balcony after a day in the car!

HH-14The view is absolutely stunning so request a room at the top facing the ocean!

Our bedroom was simple and clean and reminded me of staying at my grandmothers beach house. The Hofsas House was started by now owner/operator Carrie’s grandmother Donna in 1957 and has been family owned and operated ever since. Carrie started working with her grandmother at age 8 escorting guests to their rooms. So cute!

The Hofsas House offers a complimentary continental breakfast every morning that you can enjoy in the lobby or take back to your room.

There are no addresses on the buildings in Carmel-by-the-Sea and all of the signs are wooden to keep the charming village feel. The city also requires a permit to wear high heels over 2 inches and you can obtain a free one at City Hall. The local police don’t cite for this violation as the law was set in the 1920’s to protect the city against lawsuits from women falling on the uneven sidewalks caused by the many trees given sanctuary here.

The next day we did the Wine Walk which is a self paced, self guided tour of the 14 tasting rooms nestled in-between the restaurants and shops of the 1X1 square mile of Carmel-by-the-Sea. (Wear comfy shoes!) You get 9 tasting cards for $65 (or $50 with a 1 night stay at The Hofsas House) and they don’t expire! It’s the perfect set up – food, wine and shopping without having to drive.

The picturesque beach of Carmel-by-the-Sea allows fire, dogs, and alcohol on the beach until 10pm. Bring on the picnics and bonfires! The Hofsas House offers a package that includes everything you need for a beach fire and S’mores!

This quaint little town has so many amazing art galleries. Pictured above is the Winfield Gallery which is also home to the Figge wine tasting room! A 2-in-1!

And a food photo. There must always be a memorable food photo. In between all the wine tasting we stopped for a bite to eat at Carmel Belle and had this simple, yet yummy avocado toast and truffled egg toast with melted cheese and asparagus. It was perfect and delicious to soak up the alcohol!

If you aren’t already planning your trip to The Hofsas House and Carmel-by-the-Sea here are a few more fun facts to seduce you!

The Hofsas House
* It’s a dog friendly hotel and the entire 1X1 sq mile city is dog friendly. This concept was actually started by Doris Day at the Cypress Inn.
* There is no charge for parking, wifi, and no resort fee which is charming.
* It’s within walking distance of everything in town.
* They can perfectly accommodate any group large or small and are one of the few hotels in the area with a poolside meeting room.
* They offer a variety of packages like The Family Reunions Package, The Beach Package, The Tail Wagging Package, The Wine and Cheese Package and a variety of other things to meet your needs.

Upcoming Events at The Hofsas House
* Fri. Nov 21st 5:30-7:00 Cima Collina wine and light bites for $15 and 100% of the proceeds go to Peace of Mind Dog Rescue
* Sat. Dec 7th 2:30 Make your own Gingerbread House fundraiser for the Carmel Library Foundation. $20 for kids and $10 for adults and includes a glass of wine for the adults.

* Clint Eastwood was the mayor from 1986-1988.
* Its a very safe city making it appealing for single travelers, especially women.
* Yearly events include an Antique Car Show and International Film Festival.
* It is close to hiking, wine, good food, whale watching, Monteray Bay, and Big Sur.
** Golfers tip-the single person secret-if you want to play Pebble Beach and not have to spend the $ to stay there call the day before or day of and see if you can get in with a group of 3.

Thank you to Carrie at The Hofsas House for your enthusiasm about this great town, your extensive knowledge and warm hospitality! We can’t wait to come back and visit you again!


Friday Faves: Hawaii Edition


Aloha! Today I am writing this from MAUI!!! I am so thrilled to be here and grateful to have the chance to spend time with my friends Mary and Kevin on this beautiful island. We have only been here 1 full day but I am already in full relaxation mode. Today we are taking a helicopter tour and I am beyond excited! It will be a first for me! Here are a few of my favorite things this week…Hawaii style!

* Still being on CA time and catching the sunrise and sunsets!

* Finding this awesome Jasmine perfume on our first night here for just $11!

* Swimming in the warm ocean water and having salty sun drenched skin.

* Delicious champagne cocktails at Leilani’s!

* Sleeping to the sound of the ocean waves outside of our balcony.

* Waking up to the sound of exotic birds chirping in the trees outside of our room.

* The exceptionally friendly staff at The Hyatt and the delicious breakfast with swans! Yes, there is a swan pond off of the dining room!

* Using Maui Babe lotion over my spf30 to get the perfect golden glow!

* Not being able to take a bad picture because everything is so beautiful here!

* Poolside Mai Tai’s with my friends!

* Blogging with an ocean view while the sun comes up. It doesn’t better then this!

Whatever you do this weekend I hope its magical! XO


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