Monday, March 1, 2010

Meet Coco

2010 has been the strangest year so far. Tiger Woods had an affair? Correction: multiple affairs. Crazy! Fast food restaurants serving beer on tap? Crazier. And now, I've just purchased a food processor. Craziest!

All right, so it's not exactly Jay-kicking-Conan-out-of-The-Tonight-Show-slot crazy, but it's a little odd to me. A few years ago, I would rarely find myself in the kitchen and now I'm proactively purchasing appliances to help fuel my passion for cooking.

As an added bonus to my recent purchase, I discovered an amazing recipe for spicy shrimp, celery and cashew stir-fry in the recipe booklet that accompanied my new accessory. It's so simple to make, as evidenced by the pictures below:

Garlic Cloves and Red Pepper Flakes

Freshly Peeled Ginger

Ginger, Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes Swirling About

Cucumber Sliced to Perfection

Pre-cooking the Celery and Cashews

Diced Scallions
Peeled and Cleaned Shrimp, Ready to Go!

Frying Shrimp with Scallion Whites

Shrimp Frying with Chopped Ginger, Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes

Celery, Shrimp and Cashews - Together at Last

For the record, I was always on team Coco. In fact, I might just name my food processor after him.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Figaro Bistrot Avec Mes Amis

I recently had friends in town and wanted to show them the best spots in LA - especially for dining out. I took them to Katsuya in Hollywood and Don Antonio's in Santa Monica, but on our last night together, my plans came to a fumbling halt when denied our request for reservations at Taste on Melrose. After dealing with the frustration that is technology, I decided to look for a spot closer to home that would impress both by way of edibles and environment: Figaro Bistrot.

The French restaurant features a dimly lit interior filled with antique-mirror donning walls and miscellaneous chandeliers, low lounge-like tables and plush overstuffed chairs to match. The mood and environment are laid back, yet luxurious.

The food is right on par with the decor. It's rich, flavorful and aesthetically pleasing to boot. I ordered the French Onion soup to start, and was happily surprised to enjoy the soup past the melted cheese and bread topping that usually serves as my sole excuse for ordering a bowl. The Parmesan-encrusted Alaskan Halibut trumped all other seafood I've consumed as of late, arriving atop a crispy risotto cake served in a lemon garlic aioli sauce. Both the fish and risotto cake were cooked to perfection.

The menu is (by no surprise) en Francais, with English descriptions below each item; perfect for those of us who have peu d'expérience with the foreign language. But even if you mistakenly order le poisson instead of le poulet, you won't be disappointed. Nothing can pacify the enjoyment a meal shared with friends exchanging jokes and memories over the flickering flames of slow burning candles.

Keep your eyes open, too, when you you're at Figaro Bistrot. We happened to spot former 90210-er Lindsay Price. She's just as pretty in real life as she was on "Lipstick Jungle."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In the Name of Love and Food

This year for Valentine's day, my boyfriend took me to Paris...just kidding! But he did take me to an amazing little Parisian cafe where we spent the early afternoon hours outdoors enjoying the gleaming sunshine at a tiny wrought-iron table for two.

Via Yelp

Cafe Los Feliz on Hilhurst specializes in baked goods, all of which look tantalizingly tasty through the display case in the restaurant. This delectable noshery also offers a number of sandwiches which fittingly are served on the cafe's breads or croissants.

Via Yelp

After a long, prolonged encounter with the menu, I decided on the breakfast sandwich: scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and a light mayo-inspired sauce on a freshly baked croissant. I've never had a better breakfast sandwich or croissant in my life.

Cafe Los Feliz is just a few blocks away from the ever popular Alcove, another indoor/outdoor cafe and bakery. The Alcove's outdoor eating area is monstrous in size compared to the Cafe's four table sidewalk spread - and so are its prices, but only by comparison. The cost of brunch for two at Alcove is twice the price of the Cafe, but equally enjoyable. It appears that the Alcove is a more dressed up version of the its smaller competitor located up the street. What can I say? Every now and then, I like to root for the underdog.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pie Pops

What is it about miniature food that is so cute? These homemade pie pops are a fun idea. I love how each flavor--apple, pumpkin, banana and blackberry--has its own little icon. Wouldn't they be great for a party?

Via "A Cup of Jo"

Sunday, January 31, 2010

On Cloud Nine, a Mile-High

A week ago at this time, I was high above the world, flying home from a weekend trip from Denver. I had a great time visiting two of my best friends and discovering the Mile High City.

I had always heard incredible things about the city, but the element of juxtaposition in Denver is what I loved most about this fantastic city. For decades writers have attempted to illustrate this favorite literary motif that Denver so seamlessly brings to life. The urban spread surrounded by the natural beauty of mountains. Sophisticated restaurants in a laid-back environment. The typically antonymous states that often side well with either city living or small-town life co-exist in Denver, bringing an unusual and fresh synergy to the city.

The restaurant scene is on par with that of LA or Chicago - led by restaurants like Rioja and Encore. Rioja, located downtown, offers a menu inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and influenced by local and seasonal products. The ambiance is elegant and simple. My favorite part about dining at Rioja? The gigantic bread basket that the servers brought not once, but twice to the table while we waited for our entrees. Filled with home-baked rosemary and goat cheese biscuits, lavender and orange rolls, and other mysteriously delicious morsels.

Rioja via

Encore on Colfax, located in the former Lowenstein Theatre Complex, adjacent to the Tattered Cover Book Store, offers an American cuisine with modern twists. Items like blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes and fig jam, prosciutto and arugula flat bread pizza are popular items on the brunch menu. The bottomless mimosas are said to be another favorite item as well. The simplistic and modern environment parallels what patrons love about Encore's menu.

Encore's long, narrow dining room. Via

Biscuits and maple sausage gravy and eggs. My childhood favorite!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hangin' with Jack Bauer

As if it's not distracting enough to work in an office, where nearby conversations, furies of keyboard clattering and different musical preferences are forced to meld together, add a Hollywood shoot to the environment and the level of perplexity becomes immediately intensified.

From Wednesday through Friday, the cast of the hit Fox show 24 took over the lobby, elevators and outdoor area of my office building, One Bunker Hill. Kiefer Sutherland and gang could be seen throughout the day acting in various different scenes, from some sort of bank heist, to action scenes in the elevators and on-foot chases overtaking the sidewalks.

Kiefer playing chess during a break on the set.

Freddie Prinze Jr. getting ready for shooting to begin.

Freddie and Kiefer in between takes. Photo taken from inside Coffee Bean, my coffee shop of choice.

It was clear from the hot dog stand, long line of yellow cabs, and extras dressed in buttoned-up black that the episode is meant to take place in NYC rather than LA. The only thing that remained true to the laid back style of the West coast was the relaxed nature of the crew, including Sutherland, who was nice enough to pose for a shot with me.

Kiefer and I before his next scene began.

Monday, January 25, 2010

BabyCakes: Open in Los Angeles

This past week in LA, the rain seemed to take over the city. It poured from morning to evening, and through the night for several days over. For whatever reason, the break from the sunshine made me want to slow down a little bit, and find new refuges to escape the divergent SoCal weather.

Via Style Section LA

After a long day in the office last Thursday, I decided to duck into BabyCakes, a new NYC-based bakery that just opened in downtown LA in Pacific Electric Lofts. The charmingly kitchy environment, casually cluttered with retro records, mismatched furniture and vintage artwork was a pleasant contrast from the seemingly endless rain that poured outside.

Via Style Section LA

Between the delicious carrot cupcakes with rich vanilla frosting, and the Alice-in-Wonderland reminiscent decor, BabyCakes definitely boasts an environment contrasting to that of your average cupcake shop. The antique-inspired plates and hidden-away location of this bakery make it feel quaint and almost mystical.

And, in a city where it's common to cross paths with filming locations and spot the occasional celeb, there's something to be said for that new, unique place that can make you forget make-believe is simply a state of mind.