Friday, November 5, 2010

Coco-Luxe: San Francisco's Artisan Confection Boutique

My recent trip to San Francisco had me targeting the much raved about Coco-Luxe Confections for some artisan chocolate and salted caramels. I fought the Pre-Giants World Series game 3 traffic and eventually arrived at the Haight Ashbury boutique to find an even more difficult challenge....what to choose.
I ended up with quite a selection of retro design chocolates, salted caramels, salted chocolate covered graham crackers and a whimsical "Good Fortune" chocolate bar. Yes it is apparent that Coco-Luxe's founder Stephanie Marcon is fabulously talented(get the Peanut Butter truffle and the Mexican Chocolate truffle) however her Praline Caramels(local cream, rich milk chocolate, Alaea Hawaiian salt) and Shoo Fly Pie Caramels(blackstrap molasses, dark chocolate and Salish Smoked salt) are simply glorious.
Creative, decadent and addicting, my only regret is that I didn't buy more.
Note: Not only are they available online but their Palo Alto boutique just opened!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bon Appetit Mag's Cover Sandwich at Joan's on 3rd...


is really insane. Ultimate deliciousness.

My sister and I went to Joan's on 3rd (www.Joansonthird.com) for our standby Chinese Chicken Salad but saw the large sign for the Grilled Cheese and Short Rib Sandwich while standing in line...and come on, we've been holding out long enough, how could we resist?!

The sourdough bread was perfectly buttery and grilled crisp, the short rib was super tender, juicy and full of flavor, the cheese was precise (never thought I'd use that word to describe cheese but I don't like too much or too little in a grilled cheese!) and the caramelized onions, well you can't go wrong there.


The line wasn't very long and the place actually wasn't overly crowded like it usually is during lunchtime so I got back in line for some caramel and chocolate caramel covered marshmallows (plain caramel is way better) and a pumpkin cupcake to go. (The orange sugar on top of the pumpkin cupcake was unnecessary so next time I'll get my fav, coconut)

Scheduling a serious workout was in order. I immediately made us a reservation for the evening GST workout class.
Note to self: When in doubt, trust the large Bon Appetit poster.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GST Workout: Revolutionary New Exercise Program, move over yoga and pilates


I woke up this morning not feeling quite like myself for a few reasons...
1. I am sore in a weird way, muscles that I didn't know existed
2. My back pain is still gone
After 2 private sessions and 3 group classes of GST (www.gstbodyla.com) with the super charismatic creator Anna Rahe, I am still shocked that I am not waking up with the constant lower back pain that I've become accustom to. It's been about three years of pain and thousands upon thousands of dollars of pain specialists, physical therapy, rolfing, massage, personal trainers, yoga, pilates, chiro, pain meds, an MRI and a couple epidurals...but who's counting?!

GST is based on the body's 5 movement systems, the spine, breath, muscles, bones and fascia aka connective tissue and reactivating them for length, strength and alignment. All I know is that my back pain is gone and I'm seriously liking the other results I'm seeing. ;-) And after only 5 total sessions, I am nothing but grateful...well, and sore... in a good way. (studios in LA, NY and Long Beach)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hot on Yelp: 50% off Spa and Salon Services!


Who doesn't love a deal?! Participating Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/events/los-angeles-hot-on-yelp) businesses in Los Angeles are offering half off spa and salon services from November 1- November 7th. That's a serious discount!

From Le Spa at the Sofitel (http://www.lespala.com/) to Piele Skin Boutique in Beverly Hills (http://www.pieleskinboutique.com/) there's enough beauty services to keep me busy for the entire week. ;-) Better book in advance and be sure to mention Hot on Yelp when booking.
Note to self: Clear schedule November 1st-7th!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Impressive International Vacation Rentals, AirBNB


When I was making travel plans to Paris this year I thought, well since I've already stayed at the decadent Louis the XVI inspired Plaza Athenee, I'd do something different and rent an apartment. After extensive research and much frustration with losing two apartments due to companies which I will not name who completely dropped the ball, AirBNB (www.Airbnb.com) not only had some fantastic properties but also had a quick response. Reasonably priced and super easy to use they service 8121 cities in 166 countries so you know there's lots to chose from!
Note to self: Book more trips!

The top photo is in Nairobi, Kenya with a resident herd of giraffe!
Next is a loft in Hong Kong.

Above is a villa in Cape Town, South Africa.

Apartment in Paris.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Raven Spa Los Angeles


Not the average Los Angeles Thai massage, The Raven Spa (www.TheRavenSpa.com) is traditional yet has so much charm. (I lived in Bangkok so I have a lot of thai massage experience!) I didn't hear people talking loudly or cel phones ringing. Instead I heard a tranquil waterfall and meditation-inspiring music. I didn't get bruised and beat up. Instead I left the rustic spa feeling rejuvenated, glad I came and happy I wasn't at a different Thai spa in the middle of no-where.
Note to self: Massages are not a luxury they're a necessity.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To Do: Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon and Tasting!


What could be better? The 4th Annual LA Chocolate Salon (www.lachocolatesalon.com) is this Sunday October 10th from 11am-5pm at the Pasadena Convention Center (www.pasadenacenter.com). There's some really incredible chocolatiers and confectioners participating this year so I think I might have to get there early. ;-) Unique chocolate creations, toffee and caramels....Hmmm I think I see a sugar overdose in the near future. Oh, and there's also wine. Uh Oh.
Note to self: Get brunch at Elements Cafe first. It's less than half mile away...

(Photos from LA Chocolate Salon)

Monday, October 4, 2010

To Eat: Brunch in Pasadena, Elements Cafe


My mom, sister and I stumbled upon this place while trying to find parking in the overly-crowded Old Town Pasadena yesterday. Elements Cafe (www.elementskitchen.com/cafe) is located just a few blocks from Colorado St. and has some of the best brunch/lunch food I've had in Los Angeles in a long time. We got the Korean Braised Short Rib sandwich with house-made Kimchi on a baguette, the Duck Sausage Breakfast Burrito with duck confit, scrambled eggs and sweet potatoes and couldn't pass up the Bananas Foster French Toast with Bourbon syrup. Talk about amazing food that was cooked to perfection! The service wasn't nearly as fabulous as the food but we didn't care... So worth it.
Note to self: Come ravenous and order and a side of the super delicious tomatillo salsa for the duck burrito!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

To Do: Raise the Woof Fundraiser in Hollywood Tonight!


In Los Angeles and looking for something to do tonight? The 2nd Annual Raise the Woof Fundraiser (www.Angelsinfurdogrescue.com) is tonight in Hollywood. Support a local dog rescue while having a good time...Who's in?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Opening: Soho House Beach Miami


Watch out now...the biggest Soho House (www.SohoBeachHouse.com) yet is opening October in Miami...just as I was getting used to the LA location.

Although the 50 room hotel, outdoor screening area, two pools and members club all sound enticing, I'll be at either the Cowshed spa or Cecconi's Italian restaurant. (yes also in LA! www.cicconiswesthollywood.com) ;-)

Note to self: I know where I'm staying for WMC.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Adopt an Animal


Today I officially adopted a puppy. The cutest ever...at least to me! (Mine's the one on the top right-hand side ) I was never much of an animal person but I have so many friends with pets, recently my eyes were opened to having one in my family. This morning because of a caring and compassionate friend who fosters and bottle feeds pups who are found on the streets, I went downtown to the LA Animal Services North Central (www.laanimalservices.com) and as I was waiting to sign the paperwork and pay for the precious Leila, I walked outside to see the other dogs.

(Above is Milo, the pet of the week)
It broke my heart to see all the sweetness with no homes.

So if you know anyone who could use some extra love and companionship please, please, please consider this. If it's too much of a commitment, making a donation would help more than you know.
Note to all: Because giving is always better than receiving.
Also check out Bark N Bitches (www.barknbitches.com) It's a rescue and boutique where the money goes back to finding other dogs a home!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Best Margarita: Red O Los Angeles


Yes, I know Rick Bayless is brilliant. Yes, I know right now Red O (www.redorestaurant.com) is fabulous. My most favorite part about the Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles? The "Scorpion" Margarita. The Alacran AKA Scorpion Margarita is something beyond brilliance and fabulosity...it's sheer magic. I don't know what they put in that thing...wait, I do, it's: Comemorativo anejo tequila, Veev Acai spirit, Torres orange liqueur, fresh limonada, Serrano infused syrup and some super yummy red salt... and together, it's straight up euphoric. Where can you get a better margarita?

Note to self: Enter the number for a taxi in phone...now, who wants a drink?

Monday, September 20, 2010

TSA tax?


Unpacking this morning I noticed this lovely piece of paper in my suitcase.

Not a big deal until I realized something was missing! Were they hungry or just plain mean?! It clearly states in the second paragraph that "At the completion of the inspection, the contents were returned to your bag." Did the TSA rep who checked my bag think that after a long weekend in Las Vegas I wouldn't notice that they took my box of assorted caramels from Payard? Maybe had they been Kraft, I wouldn't care so much...but they were from Payard and oh so special! (and not cheap) Couldn't they just have taken all the vanilla, chocolate and coffee and at least left me the hazelnut ones??
I guess I should be thankful that my computer and Louboutins were still in my suitcase...
Note to self: Don't trust the Transportation Security Administration with tasty treats...or anything for that matter.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Best Paris Chocolate Shops


After much research, trial and error, about 100 Euro and a few calories, my search for the best chocolatier in Paris is complete. I focused on pralines of both dark and milk to have a standard to go by. I also tried each store's specialty. Why won't anyone let me take photos in the stores?? I took some anyway. ;-)

-Pierre Herme: (www.PierreHerme.com) Numerous locations.
Stand out pralines, the dark was a little more bitter than I like, lady gave me a few wrong chocolates but over-all a strong and delicious chocolatier. Yummy macarons too!

-Maison du Chocolat: (www.lamaisonduchocolat.com) The dark pralines have a slight burnt flavor, but the other selections were incredible...truffles and chocolate covered fruit.
-Michel Cluizel: (www.cluizel.com) 201, rue Saint-Honoré 75001 Paris +33 (0)1 42 44 11 66 Uses cocoa broad beans to create simply distinct and wonderful creations.
-J.P.Hevin: (www.jphevin.com) Numerous locations.
Another stand out chocolatier, fabulous pralines too! Caramels are good but nothing spectacular.

-Patrick Roger: (www.PatrickRoger.com) Numerous locations.
Blissful pralines, inventive selection, heavenly caramels. A must.

And the winner is...

-Michel Chaudun: 149 Rue Université, 75007 Paris, France
+33(0)1 47 53 74 40‎ My absolute favorite! Perfect pralines, heavenly ganache. Must go here.

Note to self: Stock up on Michel Chaudun ganache and get the largest box of paves...maybe a few.