Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Brewery Art Walk in LA

A few months ago I learned of this really cool art walk in LA that happens twice a year.  The gist of the walk is that there is an artist colony that took over an old brewery and twice a year there is an event in which the public can come and walk around the artist lofts and admire and maybe even purchase some original artwork. (Check out The Brewery Art Walk)

As you might remember, one of my goals for 2015 was to attend more arts and culture events and I am glad to say that another one can be checked off the list.

I met my friends Kyle and Lisa up in LA for the event and had a great time exploring the lofts and interpreting the artwork.

Parking was quite interesting... there were a lot of people there but I managed to score a spot in the lot that UPS was generously allowing visitors to park in.

I canvased the layout while waiting for Lisa and Kyle and spotted the beer station and fun restaurant nestled in the center of the  "campus" of artist lofts.  All that to say, I was doing the Whole 30 detox so I was not able to partake in the food and libations, next time for sure!  Also, apparently the location is very close to where Pocky sticks are manufactured and there were hundreds of boxes around with people munching on them.  The landscaping was water-wise with succulents, cactus, and sparse landscaping.  It said, "yes we love plants but we also know California is in a major drought."  I loved it!

The vibe was relaxed and interested.  People who were there seemed to genuinely want to see that art and were not just there to pass the afternoon, although I am sure that would be fun too.  (There are not too many photos of inside the studios as a lot of places ask not to take pictures.)

My first stop was to a gallery that boasted abstract oil canvas pieces (my favorite).  I was able to talk with the artist herself about the meaning and inspiration behind a few of her pieces, but after I had made my own interpretation first.  After all, art is how you interpret it, not what other people tell you to think.

If you are ever in the area, you should check this place out.  I am definitely going to the next event as well.  Check out their website HERE for details.

I bought these three cards and am going to frame them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Earl Grey Tea-poached salmon from Hemsley + Hemsley

So...I have been eating a bit of salmon lately.  Ironic since I do not particularly like fish.  I bought a package of wild caught salmon from Costco and have been attempting various dishes with it in the hopes that I find one I can add to my signature dish list of at least keep on the recipe rotating block.  This is the second attempt at poached fish and both have proven to be quite delicious.  Now I have to say that wild salmon is key.  I can honestly taste the difference between wild and farm-raised and I detest the taste of farm-raised not to mention you miss out of tons of nutrients.  

I found this recipe on the blog Hemsley + Hemsley. (Recipe HERE).  This blog was created by two sisters, Jasmine and Melissa, who believe in cooking sustainably and healthily.  I found the blog when I was on YouTube looking for spiraled vegetable recipes and came across their video in which they made this exact meal.

Since I am mostly eating Whole30 (if you don't know what it is, check out the info HERE) for the month of April I changed the recipe just slightly.  I did not add the parmesan cheese.  Also, no maple syrup in the house so I used honey.

I have to say that I have made the zucchini noodles (zoodles as the internet refers to them) a ton of times with this very simple lemon and olive oil dressing.  I have also made tea-poached salmon but this time the honey, tea, and butter reduction sauce kicked it up another level.  I did all but lick my plate when I was finished.  Ridiculously good tasting and quite healthy to boot.

Check out the Hemsley sister's website HERE and maybe give this recipe a try.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easter Lunch

Just sharing a few pictures of my Easter Lunch with my family.  I got a chance to try something new out of the Ottolenghi Cookbook from my Cookbooks of the Month.  I made Grilled Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Dill, and Capers.  I am going to make this again!  My mother kept the leftovers and ended up having it for dinner.  (I think she liked it too.)  Anyway, it was fun and nice to hang out and laugh. Happy belated Easter!

Grilled Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Dill, and Capers from Ottolenghi
Baked chicken, baked sweet potato "fires", julienned cucumber salad, and Ottolenghi cauliflower
Our traditional Bunny Bread alla my mother

Monday, April 13, 2015

Quick trip to Santa Barbara

A few weeks back my sister had the week off as her school had spring break. I had been itching to go to Santa Barbara so we decided to head up there for the day.  (It is only a few hours away and the hotel rates were outrageous not to mention the VRBO cleaning fees).

We left between 5am and 6AM.  Close to 6AM because we still hit some LA traffic.  Our first stop was this great little neighborhood breakfast/bakery that we discovered on our last trip.  The last time we went to Santa Barbara we both wanted to split a breakfast burrito and Yelp told us this was the place.  It is a hidden gem that serves Intelligentsia Coffee which happens to be my favorite.  The place is called Crushcakes and Cafe.  If you are in the area, I highly suggest going.  There is a great outside patio that is obscured from street noise by potted plants and a water feature.  Of course you can always eat inside which appears to be an old converted house.

Next, we headed to The Funk Zone.  This zone is fairly new to Santa Barbara and is quite worth checking out.  The Funk Zone is an area just south of State Street that boasts art houses, wine tasting rooms, and new inventive restaurants.  Check out what there is HERE. The best part is that the Funk Zone is a block away from the train station.  You can take the train up, wine taste and dine in the Funk Zone, and then take the train home.  Who needs to drive?

After we had walked a fair amount we headed up to Babcock winery.  Babcock makes some great wine, and not to mention the owner of Babcock also owns one of my favorite restaurant, Walt's Wharf in Seal Beach. I had called ahead to make sure they were open, something I highly suggest you do.  Some tasting room websites will say they are open but I have found that you need to call because sometimes those tasting rooms can be closed for a private event.  When I called I asked the gentleman on the phone if he had one other winery he suggested trying in the area and he said to try Dierberg and Star Lane because they made so many different kinds of wine.  At Babcock and asked the woman working the same question and she also said Dierberg and Star Lane.  We left Babcock and headed to Dierberg and Star Lane where our first impression was the rustic green barn overlooking a water-wise garden.

Inside we were even more impressed.  My sister and I split the tasting, as we did at Babcock, because I was driving.  The wines were from all over Santa Barbara county and did not disappoint.  Not to mention the woman pouring the wine was very knowledgeable, attentive, and had recent passed her first round of sommelier training.

We left Dierberg and Star Lane with a few bottle in tow and headed back to the Funk Zone.  We walked around a bit more before heading in to AVA Santa Barbara Vintners tasting room.  The tasting room had this amazing map of the Santa Barbara AVAs and I recognized it as I had pinned this map to one of my Pinterest boards.  The place was very informational about the AVAs and we got to taste wine from all over the county once more.

It was then time for our dinner reservations.  When planning the trip we could not decide between going to The Lark, a new restaurant in the Funk Zone my sister had go to, or to Wine Cask which is just off State Street and where I can honestly say I have had one of the top five meals of my life here. We opted for The Lark as I had never tried it and we were exploring the Funk Zone.

Restaurant review...
When walking by earlier I asked, "What is that place?  It looks so cool."  My sister laughed and told me it was The Lark.  I thought that was a good sign.  The menu is meant to be shared family style and the portions are on the smaller side, just an FYI.  The service was amazing and they were very attentive.  To start, we ordered the Caramelized Asian Pears and Red Kale.  I have to laugh because I chose this one.  I had previously told my sisters that "I don't kale." meaning that I did not drink the cooled and jump on the kale bandwagon until the next "superfood" came along.  I am indifferent to kale but disdain how much attention people give it.  That being said, I throughly enjoyed the salad.

Our next plate was the Yellowtail Hamachi Crudo.  I was a little disappointed in the dish in that the sauce overpowered the fish which flavor was all but absent.  The presentation of the dish was beautiful, but I think this is something that needs to be tweaked.  Also, this dish was suppose to have pickled fennel in which only two pieces had fennel and the chili flakes were absent.  Maybe the person who prepared the dish was new and forgot?

The dishes we had ordered previously were quite small but we thought that would be fine.  We were wrong.  Even our waitress had suggested another dish saying the portions were small.  Oh well, live and learn.  We ordered another dish at this point (we had not eaten lunch).  The last plate we ordered was quite uncharacteristic of us as it was a pasta dish.  There is only one place that I order pasta, but we took a chance.  We ordered the Farmers Market Pappardelle.  Let me just say, this was the best dish of the meal and I am so glad we took the chance.  This was a bit larger portion and the flavors just melded.  The Meyer lemon breadcrumbs mixed into the pasta took the dish to an whole other level.  If you are planning on eating at The Lark I highly suggest this dish.

All in all I say it was a great trip.  I cannot wait to go back and stay longer and have a bike ride!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March Goals: Follow Up

1. Finish Nike+ Challenge - ACCOMPLISHED.
This was one of those things that constantly hung over me.  If I wanted to go for a bike ride or wanted to to do Jillian Michael's Shred, I couldn't because I knew I needed to devote my time to running for the challenge instead.  I made this my main focus for the month and finished my goal within the first two weeks.  It was such a relief both mentally and physically.  I know that it made me go and do miles everyday which was great for discipline, I just wanted to transition that discipline to something that I enjoyed more. (See goal #5)

2. Read Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern Day Slave by Shyima Hall. - ACCOMPLISHED.
I posted a book review on this one and hope you will check it out.  (See short review HERE) I ended up meeting my my friends for a book club and had a great time talking about the issues of human trafficking and what our roles are to help end it in the US and worldwide.  I encourage you to become informed as well.

3. Burn my CDs to my computer. - Semi-ACCOMPLISHED.
I ended up needing a new computer and spent a lot of time transferring music and pictures and the like to me new computer.  This actually took hours upon hours of time and I had to put the burning of the CDs on hold.  I did manage to import quite a few but decided that I needed to reevaluate which CDs I was going to keep and which ones I would probably never listen to again.  To be continued...

4. Have another personal spa day. - ACCOMPLISHED.
Need I say more?

5. Start biking again. - ACCOMPLISHED.
The freedom that comes with riding a bike is something that cannot be described in words.  I love being on my bike and took full advantage of my time when my Nike+ challenge was completed.  The last couple rides I have had a problem with my chain and so I am taking my bike in for a much needed tune up.  While that is happening I have checked out my local YMCA and have been attending spin classes there.  Can I just say that I also love spin classes.  I find them truly addicting and burn a ton of calories.  This last class I burned over 800 calories, thank you heart rate monitor.  If you do not have or use a heart rate monitor I highly recommend it.  It is a great source for training and for tracking calories burned.  I just read this great article from that tells even more reasons that you should use a heart rate monitor.  Check out the article.

8 reasons to invest in a heart rate monitor ASAP