Places to Visit »Disneyland

20111213-120617.jpgAnaheim, CA

Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth. I loved it as a kid and did just as much taking Van for the first time.

Sure, he may not remember it but his happiness was overwhelming on It’s a Small World.

The Peter Pan ride is as awesome as ever and I had forgotten just how wild toads wild ride was! (drunk driving straight to hell could be an alternate title).

Blue Bayou was no joke price wise but a nice place to rest. Thecroque monsieur us one of the craziest things I’ve ever eaten. Ham and cheese in fried dough with powdered sugar and raspberry sauce? Wow.

In retrospect we would have made a whole day if it rather than several hours but I plan to go back again and again.

 

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Posted on December 13, 2011

Restaurants »Honey Pig

3400 W 8th St Los Angeles, CA

A dancing, happy animatronic pig and the aroma of Korean spices and cooking meat greets you at the adorably named Los Angeles Koreatown BBQ spot, Honey Pig.

The spacious room is perfect for groups and they’re kid friendly (Van came out of there spotted head to toe with sticky rice).

The domed cooker doesn’t over do the meats and a friendly staff comes by to help with cooking so you can concentrate on chatting with friends under the influence of huge bottles or beer and soju.

A simple but delicious scallion salad starts things off brilliantly. Definitely a dish I should try at home.

Thin strips of marinated beef and pork belly were excellent and the condiments amazing. Loved the bean paste and salt and pepper oil.

It was my first time having kimchee hot temperature wise (though the spicy kick here is no joke too) and it was yummy.

Be sure to opt for the fried rice towards the end, where a server will mix all the left overs with rice and veggies. So good.

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Posted on December 6, 2011

Restaurants »Koi Sushi

600 Pacific Coast Hwy

Everyone raves about the Sushi in California and every time we go we eat about every kind of food but sushi.

Well this time I was determined and luckily my sister had already found Long Beach’s best spot for the raw stuff.

Koi was everything I dreamed of and we could even get take out when the babies were uncooperative with going out.

Fresh is the word that most comes to mind. After indulging in their tuna belly, eel, sashimi salad and -my favorite- mackerel (two kinds!) I am going to find it very, very difficult to accept my local middle of the road delivery place.

Delicious!

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Posted on December 3, 2011

Places to Visit »Naples, CA

in Long Beach

We just spent a week visiting family in Southern California, mostly in the lovely Long Beach enclave of Naples which boasts canals and water front mansions.

It’s like rich person Disneyland.

While not necessarily a tourist spot, if you do find yourself in the area, it’s a great place to stroll along the water and peep into people’s unshuttered fancy homes.

Being on display seems to be the thing here. So feel free to gape inside well lit dream houses (often with questionable decorating taste- I’ll never wonder how Horchow stays in business again).

The range of architectural style is vast and it’s super fun to pick “your” home out (I opted for a 70’s dark wood and glass cube).

After peeking in all the neighbors windows and admiring the impeccable gardens (now heavy with Christmas decorations) you can stroll nearby to the very cute Mother’s Beach playground where Van and his cousin Bixby enjoyed the swings.

Also be sure to take a boat ride on the canal if possible.

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Posted on December 3, 2011

Places to Visit »Hollywood Wax Museum

6767 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

No one really goes to the Hollywood Wax Museum. But Jim and I are suckers for this kind of thing and the grimier the better. There are plenty of opportunities to ham it up with all your favorite celebrities like a frightening Jim Carrey, the Crypt Keeper, and a demented Will Farrell. The wax sculptors are not always generous to the famous people they’re creating – if I were Gwyneth or Toby Maguire I’d develop some serious issues after one visit (the former with the idea of inhuman all-body cellulite, the later with a completely dimwitted expression). If I remember correctly, it’s a bit expensive (as to be expected from a tourist trap) but so worth it to show our child photos of us hanging out with Austin Powers and Samuel L Jackson – he’ll think we are sooo cool.

There are lots, maybe too many, photos below/after the jump including an up shell shot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Click here for the rest of Hollywood Wax Museum

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Posted on October 15, 2010

Restaurants »LA Round Up

little door foodAside from Santa Monica, whose cuisine I praised last week, we had several note worthy meals in LA proper. The shining star would have to be Little Door, a semi al fresco paradise of antique mirrors, intertwining trees, vibrant flowers, impeccable service, and wonderful food. It's a special occasion place with a memorable Mediterranean menu. I had a great Braised Alaskan Halibut with Bouillabaisse Broth and Aioli Sauce.

We were also quite impressed with breakfast at Toast, a restaurant we had read mixed reviews and complaints about “sceneiness” but found the ten minute wait to be completely worth it. The menu is vast and diverse and we all had trouble deciding between several yummy sounding options. I landed on a mild shakshuka that was served with fresh flour tortillas and a refreshing glass of fresh grapefruit juice.

This week's drink pick, our lovely Avalon hotel also offered many quick, easy and tasty meals throughout our trip. I highly recommend the mushroom omelet and the smoked salmon, though service can be a bit spotty depending on the day and time. Still, there's little to complain about when you can grab convenient and good food in the setting of a pool side cabana.

For my Mexican fix, I went to Casita del Campo a relaxed favorite of my friend who is now an LA local. It's a dark, old school kind of place and while their appetizers (flimsy salads and weird meatball soups) are not the grandest, their entrees – a garlic grilled shrimp in particular are more impressive.

See photos here.

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Posted on July 27, 2009

Drinks »Avalon Pool Cabanas

One of the most appealing features of the Avalon in Beverly Hills is there outdoor pool with cabanas for lounging and drinking. It becomes kind of a hot spot on weekend nights (the noise of which seeps in a bit to your room) but for guests it's a fabulous way to relax – an ice latte and some cucumber water in the morning, a cocktail or two in the evening.

The service can be lax, and the drinks themselves are good but not outstanding. Still, such an environment, one that makes you envious of west coast living, is magnificent.

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Posted on July 27, 2009

Restaurants »Santa Monica and Venice Round Up

shutters on the beach breakfastWe were fortunate to find ourselves dining near the shining sunny shores of Santa Monica and Venice a few times on our recent trip. James Beach is a breezy half outdoors place that serves good solid fish tacos (which they proudly proclaim are featured in I Love You, Man) and refreshing margaritas. The clientele turns a bit gross LA at later hours, but one has to admit that there is some comedic value to watching a fifty year old man sport a tee shirt that reads “You're On My To Do List.”

Cha Cha Chicken is also mostly outdoors (al fresco dining is such a special pleasure when you're deprived of it) and has the best beverage possibly on the west coast (see my drink review) and an excellent homemade jerk sauce that got us all wondering if we could recreate anything close to it at home.

The most luxurious though, but still reasonably priced, was Coast, the airy, downstairs restaurant in the chi-chi Shutters on the Shore hotel. There you can expect to be served some excellent omelettes and grilled bread by the Kathy Griffin of waitresses . The view of the ocean is breathtaking and I had my one and only celebrity siting of Ed Harris there.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Drinks »Agua Fresca

Cha Cha Chicken has become a common office phrase, embedded in our minds since a coworker first recommended the quirky sounding restaurant in Santa Monica. Our recent trip finally offered the opportunity to eat there and their rich spicy jerk sauce is phenomenal (count this as a bonus restaurant pick of the week).

It was the agua fresca, however, that really drove me wild. Available in mango-guava, watermelon, cantaloupe, lemonade, and tropical iced tea, I tried my friend's watermelon and downed two mango-guavas myself.

Made simply with fresh fruit juice, water and sugar, agua fresca is a traditional Mexican beverage made to accompany the spiciness of food. I'm totally on the look out for this miraculous refreshment here in the city.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Shopping in LA

casbah cafeAside from the usual spots we hit for work shopping, this trip offered some more unique places that I found exciting and irresistible.

Una Mae's has an often great selection of both new and vintage and both times I have visited in the last few years I have gone home with something great. This time a red and white patterned breezy off the shoulder number that begs for my red high heels.

About three minutes away you'll find Reform School, one of the city's hippest little stores with a very “new craft” vibe that would fit in very comfortably back here in Brooklyn. Merrimeko table cloths, organic kids toys, and interesting body washes (I got a lime scrub) were nestled among cute cards, gifts, art and house wares. The staff is incredibly helpful and nice.

Right around the corner, though, is where I went the most crazy with the spending at Casbah Cafe. In the front area, you can order a most refreshing mint tea to stay or go, but up the back stairs lies a treasure trove of worldly colorful clothing and jewelry. I went home with a new gold and turquoise dress, a large cheetah brooch, a beaded necklace, and a tote. What can I say? I saw too many things I fell in love with.

I could have gone home with just as much stuff from the similarly french Moroccan inspired but far more gorgeous shop, Indigo Seas, if I were a millionaire. Indian settees and handmade quilted down blankets don't come cheap here, but at least you can walk away comfortably with a few bars of amazingly scented handmade french soaps without burning a hole in your pocket.

Run by Lynn von Kersting who is a famous taste maker and the proprietress of the famous Ivy restaurant next door, Indigo Seas is an experience just to walk through the effortless west coast luxury and ease of lush colors, tropical prints and lovely first edition hard bound books that speckle the store.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Places to Visit »Annenberg Community Beach House

annenberg community beach houseAfter days of heavy shopping for work, we just managed to sneak in a blissful couple of hours at the Annenberg Community Beach House, a public pool that puts most maddening public urban pools to shame. Recommended by nearly every shop owner that wondered why we weren't at the beach on such a lovely sunny day, the spot offers access to both beach and pool and, until 4, snacks (we just missed them).

Originally the home of Marion Davies and William Randolf Hearst (the ditz and the magnate that inspired Citizen Kane), the house is huge, modern and the pool runs the length of it, giving plenty of room for lappers, children, and doddlers like me.

The changing rooms are clean and private and the entire space gleams in that kind of cleanliness that comes from a responsibility and pride that Californians give to their public spaces, a quality I really wish New Yorkers could pick up on.

The long pool is warm, the lounge chairs are comfy and, for a little while, I felt uncharacteristically relaxed, calm, and worry free. Every benefit a nice day outside in a pool has to offer was available ten fold at such a nice facility (well worth the ten dollar admission). Plus: Grace and I got hit on by a couple of teenagers, which was hilarious.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Places to Visit »Dana Point

Dana Point The real OC, bitches. Sorry, I'm Federline crazy today with my tough talk and my thoughts of cornrows. Anyway, I went to a wedding in Dana Point recently and it is a very peaceful and delightful place to visit. They have sandy beaches and friendly people (strangers say hello and good morning to you there). Also an In & Out Burger is within driving distance. We stayed at the Laguna Cliffs, but beware their front desk guy named “Scott”, he's an asshole.

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Posted on January 30, 2006