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Friday Faves

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Wow, what a long, fun week its been. Between working, Wednesdays Splash spa event and last nights Show Your Style event at The Beverly Center, I am exhausted! I need a vacation which is exactly what I’m going to get. Sunday we are heading up to Ojai to hangout with our potter friend Karen Bernscott and have a little food/pottery party. The weather will be warm and she has a pool so I am thrilled. Let the relaxing begin! What has inspired you this week? Here are a few of my faves:

*This awesome sketch of me from last nights event done by FIDM Fashion Design Student Leonides Garcia. The best part is that I didn’t even know he was sketching me until it was done. I will treasure it forever!

* Sipping Hibiscus iced tea morning, noon, and night because its delicious and decaf! I  brew it hot in a large tea pot for 4 min. then add 2 spoonfuls of honey, let it cool then pour it over ice!

* I just received a copy of I Love My Slow Cooker and everything in it looks amazing. I can’t wait for Fall to arrive so I can start making some of these. My goal is to make 1 a week until I get through the whole book once it cools down!

* Ever wonder what to do with those 6,598 Instagram photos? Put them on your clothes! I love this idea of creating your own prints. I can’t wait to try it! I want a desert landscape on a one piece bathing suit to start. The possibilities are endless!

* I have been obsessed with fancy pillow cases ever since I was given a silk one as a gift for my birthday last year. Well, Wednesday at the Splash spa event I received a moisturizing pillowcase that is the softest  thing I have ever felt. Its like sleeping on a cloud. This one is for your skin and the silk is for your hair so I will just have to alternate. One day I will wake up with amazing, moisturized skin and bedhead or I can have great pop out of bed hair and lines on my face. Either way its a win!

* Smelling fruity and floral with the new fragrance Dare from GUESS. I have never thought of myself as a commercial fragrance kind of gal, partly because they usually give me a headache, but this does not and smells amazing on. And, the bottle is beautiful with a  rose gold chain and studded accents. It looks so pretty in the bathroom!

Whatever you do this weekend I hope its magical! XO

 

 

Friday Faves

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The long, holiday weekend is finally upon us! What are your plans? I have a beach wedding today, some work on Saturday, a relaxing Sunday and a pool party Monday! Whatever you do have fun! Here are some of my favorite things this week…enjoy!

*My adorable hubby has taken the Del Real Foods Blogger Recipe Challenge and needs your votes everyday for the next week! Please show him some love and vote here!

*Style meets technology with this gorgeous ring that lights up and vibrates when you get messages or alerts on your phone. So cool! I am obsessed!

*Did you know you can get a pre-paid Visa card with bacon on it? I didn’t either but its kind of amazing!

*I am in love with Venox, an anti-aging serum that I have been testing out. I apply it at night and wake up feeling firmer and smoother. Its my favorite one of the moment!

*This minute and a half peek into an active wear fashion show in Stockholm gets me all charged up! I love the heart and seeing the wigs before they are on the models heads.

*If you have a dog you need this! My crazy, inventive cousin Bonnie came up with and made this ingenious product…The Poopy Carrier!

 

Foodie Road Trip With Chef Todd Gray

This summer Chef Todd Gray embarked on an adventure that is on my bucket list…a culinary RV trip along the CA coast! One day I will be able to experience this but in the meantime I will just have to live vicariously through him. Upon his return he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his magical journey!

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From the seasonally-inspired dishes he creates every day in his award-winning restaurant to his ongoing support for sustainable farming and fishing practices, Chef Todd Gray’s impact on Washington, D.C.’s culinary scene has been immeasurable. A five time nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Award he is as widely known for his exquisite cuisine as his effervescent personality and dedication to working with and promoting local and regional purveyors. Together with his wife/business partner Ellen Kassoff Gray, Todd owns and operates one of the East Coast’s premier dining destinations, Equinox Restaurant. Just last month the DC power couple decided to embark on a West Coast culinary adventure. Here is an excerpt of Ellen and Todd talking about their experience:

2014 has been a landmark year for us in more ways than one. In addition to celebrating milestone birthdays (50 for both of us), we also celebrated the 15th anniversary of our beloved Washington DC restaurant, Equinox.

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A culinary couple through and through, we have spent the past few decades immersed in the very best this country’s food industry has to offer. We have had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most talented people and incredible organizations in the world. Todd has had the pleasure of cooking for President Barack Obama and the First Lady as they celebrated Mrs. Obama’s birthday and subsequently worked with Mrs. Obama on her Healthy Kids Initiative. We have traveled to the Virgin Islands to participate in the St. Croix Food & Wine Festival alongside chefs like Sam Choy and Tony Castellucci. We’ve partnered with renowned breweries and wineries like Goose Island to create exquisite dining events and tasting menus. At Equinox we have hosted celebrities, politicians and national power players like Bono, LeBron James, Carrie Underwood, Tom Brokaw and Hillary Clinton. In recent years, we proudly founded Washington DC’s original gourmet vegan brunch at the famous Corcoran Gallery of Art. Todd was named to the Inaugural Norwegian Seafood Council US Culinary Board and we traveled to Norway to learn about the country’s sustainable fishing practices.

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At this point in our careers (and our lives as foodies) we have been lucky enough to dine at the best and most celebrated restaurants in the world. We decided we wanted to “go off the grid.” The concept was relatively simple: rent an RV and spend 10 days driving along the West Coast searching for culinary gems along the way. Bringing our 14-year-old son, Harrison, with us made it a family affair and that much more meaningful.

Our adventure started in Northern California’s wine country. We flew to Napa, CA where Todd had been asked to participate in Bouchaine Vineyard’s Celebrity Chef Demo Dining Series. The alfresco dining event was held on the property’s idyllic garden deck and featured live entertainment and a custom menu with wine pairings from Bouchaine.

Following the event, we headed to Fremont, CA, hopped into the RV we had rented from RV Adventure USA and hit the road! Over the next week and half we literally ate and drank our way through the West Coast, stopping periodically to “glamp” at pre-determined spots along the way. While our days were filled with great experiences from beginning to end one of the most unforgettable (and delicious) was the time we spent catching, cooking and eating salmon at a fish camp along the coast. Located on an Indian reservation in the tiny town of Klamath, CA this third generation fish camp is the real deal. James Bansemer of Gold River Guides helped us catch fresh salmon, clean it and cook it in a variety of ways. We foraged for ingredients like fresh fennel, which we used to season the fish. An on-site smoker, which was built by the fish camp community, smoked salmon for 36 hours – the result was simply mouthwatering! For our son (a true urban teenager) catching a 14-lb. chinook salmon and then watching his father grill for dinner what he had just caught was a memorable experience. There are a lot of firsts in life and this was definitely one for our family.

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1) I have always said that if I won the lottery I would love to “pimp out” an RV and travel the US blogging about fine ding restaurants, dive bars and everything in between. You did the CA coast. After 7 days were you ready to turn in the keys or could you of kept going? We absolutely could have continued and rolled all the way up to Vancouver…maybe on the next trip.

2) I have only traveled by RV once and it was just for 1 night with 3 other people and a dog. It was a lot of fun but it got dirty real fast, was a gas guzzler, and was pretty slow and hard to drive. Had you and your wife traveled by RV before prior to this trip? This was our first time taking an RV “rig” on the road – this type of culinary road trip is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time and now we can check if off our bucket list!

3) I have lived in CA for 14 years now and absolutely love everything about the Golden State. Was the CA coast and it’s cuisine everything you had hoped it would be? The food and spirit in Northern California has always had a special place in our heart. We honeymooned there almost 20 years ago and have returned several time since. The approach and delivery of California cooking played a major role in the style of our restaurant, Equinox, over the years.

4) I absolutely love San Francisco and my mouth still waters at the memory of a homemade pasta I had at Flour + Water several years ago. If you had to go back to just one city you visited on your trip and re-eat something where and what would it be? If we return (and we will for sure) we would head straight to Klamath, CA. The river where much of the fishing in the area takes place is absolutely beautiful! Catching wild Chinook salmon and then grilling it, smoking it and curing it right there is something we would love to do again.

A few other culinary highlights from Chef Gray’s trip:

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Boon Fly’s Famous Bacon Bloody Mary in Napa (Russian Vodka, Special Spice Blend, Tomato Juice, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Celery, Salt Rim) It looks a lot like Wade’s version here!

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Dungeness Crab at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

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Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista in San Francisco.

What are some of your favorite culinary road trip memories?

 

5th Annual Hall Winery Cabernet Cookoff

Spend an afternoon in Napa Valley at the Hall Winery 5th Annual Cabernet Cookoff? Yes please. This was our first year attending and it was so much fun! It was a gorgeous day to sip and savor. Guests tasted small bite farm to table dishes from 15 local chef teams and then voted for their favorites while sipping the recently released Hall 2011 Napa Valley Canernet Sauvignon. $40,000 were raised and dispersed to local charities so it was a win for everyone!

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I loved this bunny sculpture who greets you at the front of Hall Winery in St. Helena. The entire property is filled with art by some of todays most influential artists.
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The weather was perfect for an afternoon of food and wine tasting.
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The potato gnocchi with applewood-smoked bacon, porcini mushrooms and brown butter was my favorite dish and ended up being the big winner of the day. It was from One Market Restaurant’s Chef Mark Dommen.
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The smoking baby back ribs with Hall Cab ‘Q’ Sauce from Bounty Hunter Winer Bar’s Chef Will Wright were finger lickin good. Congrats on your win!
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Chef Daniel Capra of Paula Leduc Fine Catering made magic happen with his crispy oxtail tacos that were cabernet braised with avocado, basil, and smoked ricotta. They were one of the days winners as well.
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Cupcakes, judges and winners!
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Between eating, wine tasting, voting and checking out the art I still took note of my favorite fashions of the day. That black jumpsuit with red sandals was EVERYTHING. I am a sucker for hot pink and black and white stripes. This lady in the center was too darn cute. I love the shade of green of this jumpsuit and the whole look reminded me of my friend Katy.  I wore my summer dress by Milly and it was perfect.

Feeling left out? Well don’t! The next Hall Winery party is coming up on Saturday September 13th! It is the annual Harvest event and the 2011 ‘Kathryn Hall’ Cabernet Sauvignon will be released. It sounds like another perfect day in Napa Valley!

 

Gourmet Simmer in a Bag Dinner?!

I was recently invited to try a couple of meals from a company called dcuisine. They reeled me in by saying this was the hottest new trend in Paris. I was not disappointed. They have reinvented the frozen dinner as we know it.  I never knew you could receive flash-frozen food on your doorstep and have it taste this good!

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Who knew delicious, high end meals could be delivered to your door?

I was shocked at how easy and quick these meals were to prepare. I literally just simmered them in their bags for the time that was recommended and they were cooked perfectly! You could easily fool a dinner guest into thinking you spent hours in the kitchen.

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We tried the Lobster and Corn Chowder  ($15) and were shocked at how many large chunks of (real) lobster were actually in there AND it was delicious! It could of been a meal in itself.

The portion sizes were good and 2 people could probably share a soup and an entree. It is definitely not something we could afford to do every night, however dcuisine meals would be great for a “date night in” or to serve at a dinner party if you didn’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen all night. Sometimes it would be nice to feel like you have a gourmet chef in your house! I am going to order a few more things just to keep in the freezer to have on hand for a special night when we are both too exhausted to cook or go out but would like something delicious and fresh!

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The Yucatan Chicken ($15) was also surprisingly delicious. It was seasoned well, had great flavor and tasted fresh!

From now until June 15th dcuisine is offering my readers 15% off their order with special promo code LEOPARD15

 

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