Hidden in Hollywood: Birch
There was a collective sadness in Culver City when Waterloo & City closed its doors for good after five successful years. Without skipping a beat, acclaimed British Chef Brendan Collins has opened an international plate-sharing-centric eatery (we don’t mean small plates, but larger ones that you will want share), on Cahuenga in Hollywood revamping an old Japanese burger joint to a stylish-Scandinavian wooden enclave called Birch. If at all possible, the food is even more inspired here with rabbit baklava served North African ‘brik’ style, rolled and slightly sweet with dates and pistachio; and the most tender, gigantic pork shank served with za’atar flatbread being standouts – beware that it can easily feed a party of two. There are some creative cocktails on the menu, but the Graham Beck sparkling brut rosé from South Africa would pair well with any of the dishes–in our opinion, and is not seen on most wine lists, so go for a bottle. The best kept secret of this fabulous spot is the tiny outdoor patio in the back utilizing a brick lined alley space that feels more Soho in London that Hollywood Boulevard. http://birchlosangeles.com/
Arts District for Veggies: Zinc Cafe
If veggies are a way of life for your palate, along with sipping a good rose alfresco, head downtown to Zinc Café + Market Cafe. Not only do they have one of the best patios in town tucked away in the shade of a few industrial lofts on a restored loading dock, but the vast wood-fired pizza selection will make you forget about meat entirely (well, at least for this one night.) The kitchen also gets props for the ‘sliders’ with brown rice and mushroom patty and the ‘Reubenesque’ with baked beets. The adjacent Bar Mateo has started a Biergarten Thursdays, for the warmer months, which takes place on the patio and features a seasonal beer paired with the Ploughman’s Plate of rustic bread and artisanal cheese. One tip for the ladies: don’t wear spiky heels as they will dig into the gravel and make it almost impossible to walk after a few drinks – go for an espadrille or flat sandal. http://zinccafe.com/
The Classic, Class-Act
Michael’s in Santa Monica has been a dining staple for over three decades and has endured as one of the top alfresco tables on the Westside. Owner Michael McCarty has recently revamped the entire restaurant making it easy for the bar crowd and patio diners alike.
Gone are the white table cloths and fine china of previous days. Now you can relax on the patio with a local halibut crudo, braised pork belly tacos or genius chicken wings dipped in waffle batter that puts a delicious new spin on the dish – and feels like less carbs to us, so a win-win. These items can be ordered in the communal bar table area from open to close Monday through Friday, or in the main dining with the rest of the Modern American menu. Larger plates include Mediterranean loup de mer, the 28-day dry-aged NY steak or the tagliatelle pasta with oxtail ragout that is actually listed as an appetizer but is large enough to be a full size entrée. Don’t forget to try Michael’s house Pinto Noir made in Malibu with your meal. http://michaelssantamonica.com/
Originally Posted on The Carat Diet
By Carole Dixon
The Golden Globes might be behind us, but awards season is just beginning and the next six weeks leading up to the 87th Annual Academy Awards on February 22nd will will be a flurry of Red Carpet ready rituals. Here are a few beauty tips for for hair, nails, spray tans and make-up that will leave you looking like an A-Lister.
Hair Extensions and Color:
If you’re locks are lacking luster, your color needs to be kicked-up a notch and a little volume wouldn’t hurt before you hit the after-party circuit this awards season, make an appointment with Kazumi Morton (pictured above) at Jonathan & George salon in Beverly Hills. (You also might recognize co-owner Jonathan Antin from the BRAVO series Blowout and some of the celebrity clientele that includes everyone from Cameron Diaz to Leonardo DiCaprio.)
Kazumi is not only a color guru but a hair extension genius. She sources a rare new product called Hair Lingerie that has with a wider panel of hand-picked hair (rather than applying multiple smaller manufactured patches to your head), and a harmless application that sandwiches your own hair between two panels and is then secured with a non-damaging solution, that will stay in place for at least six weeks, yet not harm your strands. Kazumi is one of only a few dozen hair care pros in the United States that is licensed to apply the hair, and her color expertise allows a perfect match with your own shade every time. In addition, the salon is tucked away out of the fray on a quiet, tree-lined street in Beverly Hills surrounded by only a few low-key design studios and plenty of paparazzi free on street parking.
Her international appeal is also growing as Kazumi expands her popular Root Varnish line – for touching up your hair at home, with a launch in London this fall. The handy paint brush applicator is perfect for traveling women on the go and is all natural – even edible, made with 22 botanical ingredients including ginseng to strengthen your hair and black seaweed to hydrate, plus its fool-proof to apply at just before a big event, so you might even want to throw one in your designer evening clutch before leaving home. www.jonathanandgeorge.com
Nail Art that Lasts:
Next time you go for a routine maintenance mani-pedi ask yourself: is the polish we wear a true reflection or just gloss? This is the question that Pico Blvd’s newest nail salon Enamel Diction is taking on. You can get to the bottom of this burning query by booking an appointment for a color consultation or consult their ‘colorstrology’ themed book before your next treatment.
The cute salon features a tree sculpture draped in body jewelry and a hybrid of custom made leather and wooden recliners for a relaxing pedicure – and even the manicure chairs are draped in a faux white fur cushion for cozy comfort. A cheery wall of bold art features prominently and a skylight surrounded by a living green wall hangs overhead.
Some of the nail art includes long lasting gels that won’t harm your nail beds and feel free to have your artist add a bold flower, an art-deco chevron design or even an iconic Eiffel Tower to a few nails to punch up the flair factor. Some of the polishes and products are vegan, such as Berlin based company USL, but they also specialize in a few hard to find gems from Japan such as the Uka Pepper lotion that is massaged into your hands and feet during a treatment.
Not only can you book the entire space for your next party or special event – they have a make-up artist on-site during the weekends and are still adding more services. Most importantly, they also offer a membership plan, just like a gym, where you can yield unlimited hand and nail treatments for one low monthly fee. http://enameldiction.com
Natural Make-Up for All Night
If you want a light, natural look that will stick with you under the bright lights for the entire night, La Bella Donna is a revolutionary mineral powder line that behaves like makeup. The complete collection of mineral-based formulas, are healthy for the skin and contain pure minerals from rock that give benefits to your face that you cannot get from any other products. Not just for foundation, we love the compressed blush in ‘bella,’ lip sheer in ‘truffle shine’ for a little natural glossy action, the compressed eye shadows in ‘sultry olive,’ and they even make a mascara that will not cake under pressure. This brand has been showing up in all our favorite salons around town lately, and now we know why. http://www.labelladonna.com/
Golden Glow for the Body
This ground-breaking spray tan treatment by VITA LIBERATA is actually called a ‘skin finishing session.’ Spray-tanning expert to the stars, Irish-born Fiona Locke, will actually come to your home or office to make sure your skin is not only glowing but also soft and silky to the touch. The VITA LIBERATA formulas will not give you even a hint of dreaded orange color, but they also contain Odour™ Remove technology that leaves not even a trace of that horrible chemical smell associated with most fake tans. Your skin will dry quick to the touch and the color will not be left behind on all your clothing and sheets, plus the Moisture Lock™ technology keeps the skin hydrated for up to 72 hours. This really is our top pick for a genius tan technique this season that will fool the cameras for certain. http://fionalockestudio.com/
Originally Posted on http://www.thecaratdiet.com
By Carole Dixon
Drink: Rare Whiskey at The Pikey
Owner and bar impresario Jared Meisler has been collecting whiskey for a few decades now and shares his rare finds and bounty of impressive labels at his Sunset Blvd gastropub The Pikey. Located in the former Horses Head, this list seems fitting in one of LA’s most historic watering holes – and you might want to chant the famous doors tune “Take Me to the Next Whiskey Bar” while you’re sitting in the quieter back room away from the front of house fray. Either way you’ll marvel at how a 1954 Johnny Walker Black tastes almost like a cognac back in the day at 86.8 proof and $100 a pop; or the 90 proof Jack Daniels from 1964 at $45. There is also a 15 year-old Macallan; an old Fosters Bourbon c. 1970 and a Caol Ila 19-year-old, Islay, c.1976. Study the extensive list and make a night of it with oxtail French onion soup with bone marrow or the drunken pig with black and white sausage, plus a new whiskey cocktail menu is also coming. www.thepikeyla.com
Savor: The Central Coast
Take a drive to up the coast to San Luis Obispo and learn the best-kept secrets from top celebrity chefs and authors such as Fabio Viviani as well as wine luminaries from Sept. 25-28th. There will be plenty of tent tastings featuring leading winemakers, farmers, artisan food purveyors and the sounds of local bands in the Estrada Gardens. Plus, you can take hands-on culinary tours while abalone farming in Pismo or winemaking in Paso Robles, culminating in a rare farm-to-table tasting and the 2014 Sunset International Wine Competition at Hearst Castle. http://www.savorcentralcoast.com/
Learn: How to Cook at EATZ
Whether you yearn to be adept at flaky quiche crust, the perfect omelet, a savory beef bourguignon – or just want to practice your knife skills, try an interactive cooking class at EATZ on LaBrea. You’ll be surprised to find that this storefront location near Melrose has been open for over five years, but now that you have discovered this hidden gem, you’ll want to return for more festive cooking pursuits that include actually cooking and tasting your five-course meal creation in a relaxed group while drinking plenty of wine during the 3-4 hour evening. There are theme courses from Moulin Rouge to Mardi Gras, Indian to Italian, (seriously, it will be hard to choose), or the art of baking, but this is also a fun idea for a private group or party this fall. Check out the schedule here: http://www.eatzla.com/upcoming_classes.php
Chef Eric Greenspan, Los Angeles
Go on-Line: Salted
If actually leaving home to learn how to cook or bake is not your style, and you’ve seen absolutely every episode of Good Eats on The Food Network, there is something new and exciting for you to check out – on your computer. Thanks to the creative new culinary on-line web-site Salted, you can converse and learn from over 50 celebrated chefs around the country no matter what your skill level. Some of the participants include Chef Roy Choi (Kogi Truck, Chego), Chef Ricardo Zarate (Picca, Paiche) Chef Neal Fraser (BLD), Chef Carmen Quagliata (Union Square Café), Chef Jonathan Benno (Lincoln Restaurante), as well as iconic restaurant institutions such as Katz’s Deli in New York City, and Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. Salted features a library of 200 exclusive video tutorials that take a step-by-step, comprehensive approach to learning to cook and this is also more cost effective than a fancy cooking school – and a fraction of the price. Lastly, if you submit any follow-up questions, they will be answered within 30 minutes. www.saltedtv.com
Give Back: Alex’s Lemonade Stand
Don’t miss one of our favorite food festival events that bring together local chefs with top toques from around the country all raising money and awareness for childhood cancer. This year the festivities will take place on the Wilson Plaza at UCLA with Host Chefs Suzanne Goin, Caroline Styne and David Lentz returning for the fifth year, along with guest chefs Giada DeLaurentiis, Michael Voltaggio, Tom Colicchio, Mary Sue Milliken, Scott Conant and Roy Choi. Be sure to grab tickets before it’s a complete sell-out (per usual) for Saturday, September 20th from 12-4pm. LALovesAlexsLemonade.org
Chef Perfecto at Smoke.Oil.Salt.
Smoke.Oil.Salt. West Hollywood
Third generation Spanish paella maker Perfecto Rocher has joined forces with Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman and AdVantage Partners to bring true tapa and other regional delicacies to Melrose diners. You might miss the entrance surrounded by tattoo parlor signs but once inside you will probably recognize the old Angeli space split into two rooms with a bar and open air kitchen. Start with a glass of Cava then move on to Albarino or Tempranillo wine. You’ll want to order bravas trencades with fried potatoes, Serrano ham, chorizo and fried egg or pluma Iberica which is wood-fired filet of pork with smoked green onions and Xato sauce. Paella family style dinner will be available on Sunday evenings only but we’re hoping this can be part of the regular menu. Hot tip: there has been a few mentions of the heavy kitchen smoke but if you sit by the front near the large open windows, it should not be an issue and it’s very mild compared to a K-town BBQ place in our opinion.
Malibu Pier Restaurant & Bar
It’s always been a culinary crime that we have not had more good beachside restaurants in LA, let alone one on the famous Malibu Pier where Alice’s restaurant once stood. The owners of the pier felt the same and on the heels of quant and delicious Malibu Farm casual dining on the far end of the planks, Malibu Pier is the finer dining sister with Chef Jason Fulilove at the helm. The seafood heavy menu includes California white sea bass carpaccio with Meyer lemon relish; tuna crudo with crushed olives, Ojai Pixie orange, pistachio, bergamot and seagrass. The California striped bass has the perfect crispy skin and Malibu seafood stew will keep you warm through winter with mussels, clams, wild octopus and saffron pasta pearls. We found that most dishes paired well with a Syrah rose or Viognier from local favorite Casa Dumetz Wines. You can also have a pre or post dinner cocktail in the adjacent bar.
Faith & Flower, Downtown LA
The folks who bring the Food & Wine festival to Pebble Beach and DTLA have opened a permanent eatery at 9th and Flower that is pure glam. Long yellow banquettes are sexy with low lighting setting a romantic tone. The menus are small leather bound books, so if your date is starting to bore you beyond the first course, read some food trivia to pass the time while you nibble on oxtail angelotti with bone marrow butter, sprinkled with shreds of chicharonnes and a tangerine salsa that cuts through the richness perfectly. Move on to mesquite grilled bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, seared branzino, or one of the best pizzas in town from eggs benedict to roasted mushroom. Either way, the food and craft cocktails list will keep you on your toes – even if your date won’t.
Superba Food & Bread, Venice
Paul Hibler is a national treasure in Venice and Culver City at this point after opening Superba on Rose, East Borough on Washington and a few Westside Pitfire pizza outposts. Superba F&B is the casual bakery cousin where you will want to pull up a chair on the patio or barstool and eat as many freshly baked goods as possible with copious amounts of wine. Open for three meals a day, they are also offering fried chicken on Sunday nights. Whenever you go, try the black rice salad with rotisserie pineapple, Thai basil and cashew. Along with an order of bread and house made cultured butter, this could be a filling meal for non-meat eaters.
Zinque, West Hollywood
We are loving the new Pacific Design center adjacent location of the Venice staple Zinque wine bar and café. Designed by Milos Garcia (57, Hinoki and The Bird), the patio is the perfect perch for a long lunch or dinner by the fireplace with rosé and the best quiche Lorraine this side of France. Poilane crusty bread is imported from Paris with salted butter but save room for ham gruyere panini, thin mushroom flatbreads and open faced hard boiled egg and smoked salmon tartines topped with crumbled potato chips. For dessert you’ll be torn over the cheese plate or chocolate – just order both. Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 6:30pm featuring mini quiche bites, pate, Sicilian olives and Spanish almonds.
Hidden Gems: From a Food Network Star in Beverly Hills to an Eastside bungalow and a classic downtown hotel.
Food Network Chef and super-star Curtis Stone is the Aussie that everyone loves. Good looking, funny and charming Stone just might be written off as another pretty face on TV –that is if you haven’t been to his postage-stamp-size restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills.
With only 25 seats available for a nightly 9-course tasting menu, you must like the rotating monthly ingredient of choice before committing to a reservation. On our visit artichoke was the chosen one – even for the tiny ‘snacks’ courses of crab, blini and croquette which only made us want more and more. What followed was barigoule stew with black radish; an excellent duck consommé and scallop crudo with caviar. The Pork rillettes with picked beets should be kept on the menu no matter the ingredient, but the show stopper was probably the ‘bacon & eggs’ with duck egg, artichoke ricotta and everything bagel crumb. The finale courses included a smoked focaccia and a chocolate semifreddo with roasted artichoke ice-cream. Not just another pretty face indeed.
Closing in on close to a year in business, your might just past this charming craftsman style bungalow when whizzing down Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. Make sure to stop in and sit on the leafy back patio, romantic main dining room in a cozy booth or on the front porch if it’s a balmy summer evening. Start with a few small plates conceived by Chef Sean Lowenthal (Chateau Marmont) like the addictive chipotle hummus with smoked paprika pita crisps; burrata and prosciutto wrapped in broccolini which could be a salad; or the pomodoro braised lamb meatballs with feta on a charred baguette. Try to save room for the signature English pea risotto which offers tangy Meyer lemon and mint with a pop of whole peas and Parmesan which is soft and crunchy in one bite. Salmon, scallops and steak also make up the entrees and there is a great wine list by the glass to accompany spanning Spain to France and Italy with albarino, viognier and Prosecco.
Noe at the Omni Hotel
Downtown is loaded with new restaurants and hotels but next time you’re in the area for a concert, game or club, try an old standard offering a fun new nightly pairing in the lounge. We’ve been a long-time fan of the wines of Washington State and we are now a fan of the cheeses from the region as well, not to mention a former Napa Valley Chef who puts bacon as an accoutrement on a plate of fromage. The Charles Smith Wines Riesling, ‘Kung Fu Girl’ from the Columbia Valley, goes exceptionally well with the buttery Beechers ‘flag sheep’ reserve that has been dipped in red wine and blackberry honey, as does their ‘Velvet Devil’ merlot. Chef John-Paul Kuhn also did a stint at Morimoto and you’ll be glad when he presents the toro sashimi plate followed by a Columbia Winery Chardonnay. If you happen to be traveling, the ‘Taste Washington’ pairings are available at other Omni locations until the end of May, 2014.
Red Med at the Formosa Since 1925 the Formosa has been a West Hollywood staple for studio executives, famous crooners and mobsters who slid into naugahyde red booths during 3 martini lunches back in the day to count their money. This dimly lit box car has been a cool dive for dozens of years -and the signed black and white celebrity headshots still line the walls, but the Chinese food was never the draw. Enter the crew behind Red Medicine in Beverly Hills, including a menu conceived by Executive Chef Jordan Kahn – and problem solved. Start your evening – at 4pm if you so desire, with a Singapore Sling or a Pisco Sour before ordering crispy coated confit chicken wings, Shanghai rice cakes with bacon, spring rolls with Dungeness crab, poached farm egg with boiled peanuts, or a bahn mi slathered with pate and stuffed with pork belly. The show-stopper is a giant platter of Wagyu beef brisket which has been braised for 36 hours that you can roll into lettuce leaves. Chances are you’re going to want everything on the menu, but don’t feel a bit guilty, they do not have a dessert menu, and you have until 2am to finish everything.
East Borough The team behind Pitfire Pizza (one of the few chains that we like), and extremely popular Superba Snack Bar – Paul Hibler and Chef Jason Neroni, have set up a new shop in Culver City focusing on French Vietnamese dishes. The interiors are similar to Superba with colorful tiled floors, communal tables, front patio and unique design elements such as the massive photographic wall of a Ho Chi Min City street scene. Start with a ‘Kitchen Garden’ cocktail of gin, cucumber, black pepper and celery bitters that will pair well with most dishes. We loved the daikon rice cake with egg; head on blue shrimp; salt and pepper squid which is lightly coated or the tender baby octopus with sweet chili sauce and crispy Brussels sprouts. ‘Common Table’ items include whole roasted chicken, roasted trout and fall off the bone pork shank with crab pate and lettuce cups.
Little Sister By 6pm on any given Saturday night, this cozy modern French-Vietnamese eatery by Chef-OwnerTin Vunong is giving neighbors M.B. Post and Fishing with Dynamite a run for the money with a huge crowd waiting on the sidewalk. The space is industrial cool and date-night cozy at the same time; plus we love a menu that includes a ‘spice table’ with symbols, descriptions and origins to help you decipher some of the more complex ingredients in the cuisine. Musts include the perfectly crispy Vietnamese crepe stuffed with pork belly, prawns, bean sprouts and showered in mint that you can wrap in a lettuce cup – but it’s just as tasty solo. Skinny Singapore noodles with prawns and chunks of juicy pork is another hit along with the salt & pepper lobster. If you just want to sit at the bar and watch the kitchen in action, start with the Balinese style fried meat balls served with banana ketchup for dipping. There are no cocktails on offer but your can order beer, premium – sake or a bottle of rose which pairs well with a cheese plate for dessert.