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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Moms are so important in the world and they do so much each and everyday. If you ask me, I think they should be celebrated year round. So with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite gifts for my own mom and all the special motherly figures in my life.

  1. Sometimes the nicest gifts aren’t gifts at all. But rather words from the heart on a pretty little pink and gilded gold card.
  2. Since Mom’s do so much for everyone else, encourage her to take some time for herself and relax with a luxurious bubble bath, candles and all.
  3. These floral mosaic loungers will make any woman feel stylish even when she’s just getting comfortable at home.
  4. As kids, we’ve all been caught with our hands in the cookie jar, now it’s Mom’s turn with this adorable porcelain Gnome jar.
  5. Show her how much she’s impacted your life by inserting a personal page about her inside this book of wise women.
  6. This Neapolitan coffee maker will turn her early morning pick me up into an Italian morning ritual.
  7. If you can’t afford to send her off to Paris just yet, bring Paris to her with my personal favorite, French Macarons. Bake them yourself or order them online at a few of my favorite local and international patisseries: [Ladurée (Paris), Pierre Hermé (Paris), Duverger (The States), Sparkles Macaron (California)]
  8. For the lady who loves to entertain, these beautiful Moroccan styled tea glasses will make any drink classy.
  9. Splurge on her with this 18k gold ‘mom’ charm and pink quartz necklace from my jewelry line, Mei Elizabeth, that shows her exactly who she is to you. Add a personal touch and customize it with her birthstone or that of you and your siblings.
Fun Music Music Playlist San Francisco Travel

Playlist: San Francisco Road Trip

Today Marc and I are getting a head start on the weekend and going on our much anticipated San Francisco weekend getaway. It’s only about an hour plane ride away from LA but we decided that it would be much more fun to take our sweet time, drive up the coast, and check out Solvang, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Paso Robles and Pismo Beach along the way. And of course, a road trip just isn’t a road trip without a prerequisite playlist that you can sing your heart out to, bop your head to, or cruise along with while you relax and enjoy the scenery. With my musical taste all across the map with Dancehall, Reggae, R&B, Folk, Indie Rock and Pop and Marc’s towards Hard Rock and more Hard Rock, between the two of us, I think we’ve got this road trip covered.

A-SIDE: TO SF
1. Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time
2. Janet Jackson – Escapade
3. 2Pac – California Love
4. Blondie – The Tide is High
5. Billy Ocean – Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car
6. MGMT – Electric Feel
7. LCD Soundsystem -Dance Yrself Clean
8. Led Zeppelin – D’Yer Mak’er
9. Daft Punk feat. Pharell – Get Lucky

B-SIDE: TO LA
10. David Guetta feat. Rihanna – Who’s That Chick
11. Chris Brown – Forever
12. Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun
13. Prince – Little Red Corvette
14. M83 – Midnight City
15. UB40 – Red Red Wine
16. The Mamas and the Papas – California Dreamin
17. Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin – Je T’Aime…Moi Non Plus
18. Phillip Phillips – Home

Music Music On Repeat

On Repeat: Charlene Soraia – Wherever You Will Go

Since discovering this song a couple of years ago, it’s become my go to at-home karaoke song anytime I feel like singing my heart out when I think no one’s listening. Which is interesting, because it’s rare that a cover version outshines the original. But Charlene Soraia’s angelic and haunting take of The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go” is so emotionally charged that I can’t help but foolishly choke back tears and over exaggerate my heartache into a hairbrush, like my emo teenage self would while listening to Sarah McLachlan’s entire “Surfacing” album after sixth period. But causing a lump in our throats while we attempt to sing along is what a good love ballad should do, right?

Charlene Soraia – Wherever You Will Go from FourthFlightFilms on Vimeo.

Events Music Music

Social Scene: JazzReggae Festival 2013

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Reggae and Dancehall music. So every year, my girlfriends and I pack our beach bags with sunblock, towels, water and other unmentionable paraphernalia (that I won’t mention), don our requisite Rasta inspired outfits, and head over to the annual JazzReggae Festival held at UCLA. It’s a two day outdoor music festival bender held in May during Memorial Day weekend, with the first day’s emphasis on hip hop and jazz, and everyone jammin’ to Reggae, Dancehall and Soca the day after. The lineup never disappoints and this year is no exception with Ziggy Marley, Barrington Levy and Marcia Griffiths in the mix. Here are some of my favorite tracks of theirs to get you all in the Rastafari mood.

1. Ziggy Marley – Tomorrow People: The apple definitely did not fall far from the tree. His music is just as awe inspiring as his father’s.

2. Marcia Griffiths – The First Cut is The Deepest: The queen matriarch of reggae, this is her cover of Cat Stevens’s original.

3. Barrington Levy – Here I Come: A legend in his own right, his music has been sampled by the best of them from The Fugees to The Black Eyed Peas.

4. Bob Marley – Redemption Song: Couldn’t have a reggae list without the king of reggae himself. This is my all time favorite song of his. It floors me every time.

Music Music On Repeat

On Repeat: Solange Knowles – Losing You

Some people call it tried. I call it tried and true; upcycled and inspired. Solange‘s “Losing You” has me longing for the days of Stacy Q, Nu Shooz, The Jets, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, and of course, babyfaced Janet Jackson of the Control era. And did I mention that stunning Foxy Brown afro? Makes me want to go back in time and don my third grade perm in a box.

Now go ahead. Press play and give it a whirl. Before you know it, this Knowles might have you saying, “Beyoncé who?”

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Natas Pastries + Portuguese Pasteis de Nata

Being part Chinese, I’m no stranger to the ubiquitous egg custard tarts or dan tat that little kids and old folks, alike, clamor for at dim sum restaurants. They’re crispy, buttery, delicate and flaky on the outside and lightly sweet, rich, creamy and decadent on the inside.  They’re absolutely delicious and insanely addicting. I hate to admit it, but I’ve probably run over and tackled an old Chinese lady or two, trying to get my grubby paws on the last ones. What I wasn’t too familiar with, in spite of my Portuguese side, is the dan tat’s predecessor and European influencer, the Portuguese pasteis de nata. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across Natas Pastries, a Portuguese bakery and café in Sherman Oaks. I could finally do a taste off between both egg custard tarts and determine whose dessert reigned supreme.

I thought there would be a clear winner, but after trying the pasties de nata, I was just as confused as I ever was. Because to be honest with you, I couldn’t decide. They’re both so magically delicious. Making me choose would be the equivalent of having me choose which one of my kids I like better. Granted, I don’t have any children but you get my point. I just couldn’t do it. But consider my addiction for all egg custard tarts, dan tats, pasties de natas and all, reawakened. So next time you see me at the Portuguese bakery or the Cantonese dim sum restaurant, be sure not to stand between me and my dessert or somebody might get hurt. Consider yourself warned.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to a Portuguese bakery near you, here are my favorite recipes to try to make your own here and here.

If you’re wondering how a Portuguese pastry ended up in your local Chinese restaurant, here’s a quick history lesson:

Beginning in the 1550s, Portuguese merchants were heavily involved in trade with China by way of Macau. This resulted in Macau being rented to the Portuguese as a trading port in 1557, which subsequently led to Macau becoming a colony of the Portuguese Empire from 1887 through 1999. It goes without saying that during their extensive time there, the Portuguese definitely left their mark. And they did so in the form of a pastry. Their pasties de nata were so well received by the Chinese and interwoven into their culture, that to this day, the pasties de natas, dan tats, egg custard tarts or whatever you’d like to call them, can be found all over China, including their KFCs and McDonalds. In fact, they’ve become such a Cantonese dim sum staple that most people attribute the egg custard tart solely as a Chinese culinary invention without realizing its European roots. The Chinese variety, uses more of a puff pastry dough crust versus the Portuguese version that uses more of a layered phyllo dough crust and has a hint of lemon and cinnamon. Both are exquisite.

Natas Pastries

13317 Ventura Blvd  Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

818.788.8050

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Tar & Roses + Pig Tails

The great thing about growing up in an Asian household is that you’re introduced to a lot of “interesting” foods like chicken feet, sea cucumber and fish sauce that other eight year olds may not have so much as been made privy to, let alone been forced to eat. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, with a tiger mom like mine, even if it looked ugly, sounded weird or smelled bad, if it was placed in front of your face, you had to eat it. No ifs, ands or buts…well, maybe chicken butts…but that’s a whole other conversation. So learning from a very young age that being picky was not an option really cultivated my palate and openness to try and truly enjoy pretty much anything. Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods got nothing on my family.

So when I took a sneak peek at the menu at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica, I was super excited to see that they were serving crispy pig tails with sriracha, honey and cilatro. Finally! A childhood favorite that hadn’t been completely hijacked, bougie-fied, hyped up and played out by the culinary world just yet (ie: bone marrow, banh mi sandwiches, pig ears…I could go on and on). To be honest with you, I went in expecting to be disappointed but instead, I was very pleasantly surprised. No joke. It was really really good. Crispy, tender, flavorful, rich, unctuous, slightly sweet, perfectly salted and just enough spice. What more could a girl ask for in a pig tail?

We ordered a few different dishes that were all fabulous. But the standouts for me were definitely the following:

1. Crispy pig tails with sriracha, honey and cilantro
2. Wood roasted English peas with mint and sea salt
3. Skate wing with lemon risotto, pea tendrils and salsa verde
4. Duck liver paté bruschetta

So if you find yourself on the west side, be sure to pull your hair back, get your hands dirty and pig out.

Tar & Roses

602 Santa Monica Boulevard

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(310) 587-0700

Social Scene: Hester Street Fair – East Coast Meets West Coast

Nothing says summer like ice cold beer, outdoor concerts, block parties and street food. Luckily for us, the Hester Street Fair has it all. Throw in some curated artisanal shopping to boot and you’ve got yourself a summer party. Hailing from New York City, HSF has expanded to the streets of LA, bringing with it some East Coast swag and shwag.

Featuring a seedy yet oh-so-lush beer garden, booming soundstage, grub-worthy food trucks and trendy jewels and threads, it was an awesome way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon that was almost as easy as Sunday morning. With that said, it looks like the East Coast just helped the West Coast be the Best Coast.

Dates are running through Summer so be sure to check it out and represent:

JULY 7th, 2pm – 10pm
Hollywood Night Market

AUGUST 18th, 11am – 7pm
Indie Craft Market

AUGUST 25th, 11am – 7pm
Goodnight Hollywood Blvd. Music Festival

Below are some pics from the shindig but the vendors that stood out to me most were:

  1. Janie XY – whose handmade stuffed toy foods and pets are so friggin adorable, they make you want to buy them as gifts but end up keeping them for yourself
  2. Fleet – an eclectic and crafty girlfriend duo sewing up some flirty dresses and chunky jewelry
  3. Frigate Ties – an ingenious, bright (both intellectually and color wise) and practical twist on ties that make you exclaim, “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?!”

JanieXY

Fleet Collection

Frigate Ties

Anon-Y-Mouse

Deuvo

The Poster List

Cake Bar

Heirloom LA Catering

Raggedy Threads

Ayara Thai Products

J.D. Luxe

Babycakes

Cousins Maine Lobster

Hester Street Fair

Location: Hollywood Blvd and Argyle Avenue.

 

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Fig & Olive + The Sister Zone

There’s this girl, I know. Her name is Julie. I call her Julie Bulie. Why? Because when you love someone, you can give them ridiculous nicknames that don’t really make any sense other than that it rhymes.

She’s surpassed best friend status and has found herself in the coveted and sometimes elusive “Sister Zone”. It’s a title that is rarely granted. But when it is, it is only granted upon you, once you’ve seen each other at your worst, as well as your best. Once you’ve lived together, made each other ugly-cry and still managed to love one another. Once you’ve cheered each other on and cheered each other up. Once you’ve prevented each other from making bad relationship, fashion, career and (insert noun here) decisions simply because their happiness is your happiness. And once you’ve celebrated each other’s successes, only to hold back each other’s hair after said night of excessive celebration. These friendships are hard to come by but when they do, they’re forever cherished.

Crostini Tasting: Manchego, Fig, Marcona Almond; Copa, Goat Cheese, Honey, Almond; Salmon, Ricotta, Citrus, Cilantro

So needless to say, when it comes time for our biannual catch up sessions, I get giddy and can’t wait to see her. And often times, I can’t wait to see what restaurant she chooses to serve as the backdrop for us to air the accomplishments and grievances of our theatrical lives, as she never fails to choose one that is the perfect representation of our friendship: refreshing, open-aired, and ever-evolving yet constant. And once again, she did not fail to deliver when she chose Fig & Olive on Melrose.

It’s a beautiful open space with dramatic presentation that still manages to maintain the air of California clean. Smoke, without the mirrors, is used to brilliantly flavor their Rosemary Lamp Chops but the star of that show was the Roasted Honey Eggplant accoutrement. Their Beef Carpaccio with 18 year old balsamic vinegar is something to be, nothing less, than revered, while their wall of olive oils is as impressive as it is diverse. And finally, their Dessert “Crostini” with Amarena cherries, mascarpone cheese and crushed pistachios on homemade shortbread ultimately coerced Julie, the chocoholic, to abandon her Chocolate Pot de Crème ship and find refuge on my dessert plate.

Needless to say, the meal was delightful but what made it even better was definitely the company. And like family, although we don’t see each other nearly enough, when we do, it means a lot. So as far as I’m concerned, Fig & Olive has earned itself a new nickname and will forever be known, in my book, as Mei & Julie. Because a sister who feeds, is a sister indeed.

Sea Scallops & Truffle Artichoke Tapenade: Seared sea scallops, truffle artichoke, arugula pine nuts with aged balsamic & white truffle olive oil
Beef Carpaccio: filet mignon, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, baby arugula, tomato, parmesan truffle olive oil

Penne Funghi Tartufo: cremini mushroom, black trumpet, parmesan, parsley, scallion & white truffle olive oil
Rosemary Lamb Chops: grilled lamb chops smoked a la minute with a bouquet of Herbs de Provence goat cheese & chive gnocchi, roasted honey eggplant & rosemary garlic olive oil

Dessert “Crostini”: Amarena cherry, mascarpone, pistachio on shortbread with micro-basil
Chocolate Pot de Crème: crunchy praline financiers & vanilla cream

Manchego, Fig, Marcona Almond Crostini

Copa, Goat Cheese, Honey, Almond Crostini

Salmon, Ricotta, Citrus, Cilantro Crostini

Thanks for treating, Julie Bulie!

Fig & Olive
8490 Melrose Place
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310 360 9100

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Milk – Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

In a fast paced city like LA, the years go by fast and the days go by even faster. So much so, that it gets to a point where your thoughts and memories begin to blur and bleed into one another. In a fast paced city like LA, we’re quick to grow up and once we’re grown, we realize that we should’ve never wished it upon ourselves to begin with. Because before you know it, you’re no longer playing Tour of Duty or MacGyver with your brother in your backyard anymore. Instead you’re scheduling meetings and meeting deadlines, all the while planning for the rest of your life.

However, it’s days like today – days like Halloween – where we’re all reminded that, behind our suits and our titles, our Louboutin stilettos and our crazy schedules, everyone of us were all kids once. And more often than naught, that kid is vying to come out. Luckily for us, the folks at Milk seem to truly understand and empathize with this duality dilemma by offering grown up versions of the childhood favorite ooey-gooey, get-it-all-over-my-hands-and-face ice cream sandwich. Sandwiching a baseball sized scoop of homemade ice cream between two dessert-plate-sized, freshly baked French macaron cookies, Milk manages to cater to our childhood wishes while satiating our adult palate and eye for design with flavors such as red velvet, Thai ice tea, and salted caramel, that are then coated with thick icing to create a mod masterpiece that is almost too beautiful to eat…Almost.

It’s places like Milk that make us realize that maybe growing up isn’t so bad. Because after all, although kids can want ice cream for breakfast, kids at heart can actually have it. So in the wise words of the late Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

MILK
7290 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.939.6455