I Never Had a Bartending Job

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.07.54 PMbut I can pour the most delicious cocktail ever. Good news… you can too.  One of my dear friends from college together with her sister launched Austin Cocktails a line of Artisanal, low-calorie cocktails made with six times distilled vodka, organic agave & natural fruits and juices.  You may not have heard of them yet, but just remember I told you about it way back when.  I have a feeling Austin Cocktails is going to explode.  Currently there are four flavors to choose from – Cucumber Vodka Mojito, Tea Twister, Paradise Found, and Vodkarita. If you ask me to pick a favorite, I can’t. They are all delicious so it really comes down to the mood I’m in. Oh, and when I want to be a show-off, I channel Sandra Lee, cut up some cucumber or lime slices grab a few sprigs of fresh mint and dress up the drinks.  If I was Pinterest perfect I might find the perfect tumbler or Mason jars and then take a picture for you guys to see.  I’m Martha Stewart in my head until it comes to the actual execution.  Okay, I’ve digressed too far.  Bottom line is we can all use a Happy Hour or two and Austin Cocktails is the perfect drink to pour.  And whatever you do don’t think this is a “girl drink” whatever that means. My husband and all the other men that have tried it in my presence love it.  Do yourself a favor and try Austin Cocktails then please let me know what you think.

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M(mmmmm) Cafe de Chaya

So I was having that conversation that I’m sure some of you can relate to with a friend.  It went something like this.  Ugh, I feel so gross (probably threw fat in there too). I’ve been traveling for work, eating like crap, and drinking too much. Friend chimes in, me too. She says, I just saw this 5 day cleanse on Gilt City and went ahead and bought it. I had unsubscribed from Gilt City a few months prior.  I love Gilt City but I was trying to reduce the number of unnecessary expenditures as well as emails. I immediately logged on to Gilt City to find the offer she was talking about (5 day reset cleanse from M Cafe de Chaya).  After reading the description (this is not a juice cleanse) I knew I had to buy it. Yes it was a lot of money but this could be the start I needed and if we are talking about something to make me feel better about myself (food, exercise, etc) then those are expenses I can justify to myself.  Oh, I’d dined at the M Cafe in Culver City when I worked on the Sony Pictures Lot and thought it was fantastic.  If this reset did any one of the things it claimed it would do – reset your metabolism, strengthens your immune system, eliminates sugar and carb cravings and transforms your mood to expose the most beautiful version of yourself – then this would be money well spent. (I promise I’ll devote a blog post or 10 to my trials and tribulations with food, diet, body image, etc.)

The next challenge was figuring out a Mon – Friday when I’d be in town every day and not have any scheduled dinners or lunches.  I finally found a week to do it and was really excited. I emailed the restaurant to set it up and learned the food had to be picked up daily. Oh, and the Culver City location was no longer open thus leaving only BH or West Hollywood. Yikes. I live in Pacific Palisades and work in Santa Monica.  (Good news west siders, there is now a M Cafe in Brentwood).  Luckily my husband is smart and suggested I ask our manny (topic for a later blog) to pick the food up for me. Problem solved.

Monday I started the day with tea followed by a green juice at 10am. While coffee is not part of the cleanse there was no way I was going to forgo my morning coffee and in addition to hunger pains face throbbing headaches.  Besides, I learned to drink coffee black about a year ago when I did my first “detox”.  I know I should start this blog from the beginning but this is my forum so I’ll continue to bob and weave talking about what I like when I like.  I was so excited for my first lunch meal – Baja-Style Chopped Salad w/ Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette (greens, avocado, cucumber, spicy black beans, roasted corn, tomato, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, chipotle spices). It looked incredible and tasted even better. In fact everything was delicious. There were some things I enjoyed more than others but there was never anything I didn’t like.   Oh and before you start you can tell them if there is something you don’t eat.  If you are used to consuming a lot of animal protein beware that on two of the days you can have fish – salmon or cod but for the majority of the cleanse you are eating a plant based macrobiotic diet. Check out the menu to see what a typical 5 day meal plan looks like.

It was so nice not to think about what I was going to eat. I find dinners to be especially challenging.   When I get home from work I’m tired and I have to get dinner ready for my son.  In the past I found myself eating his dinner and then eating mine.  For these 5 days I had something already prepared so when we sat down to eat together I could enjoy my scrumptious and healthy fare.  And after dinner I didn’t have to be done eating for the night. Each night I enjoyed a wonderfully spiced homemade almond milk. I chose to warm mine up and it was fantastic. I have yet to try making my own almond milk from scratch but I do love Califia Farms almond milk and will throw some cinnamon in a glass and warm it up on evenings when I’m not feeling satiated. I’ll also eat dark chocolate. I could never give up dark chocolate.

I’m not going to lie there were a couple of times during the week when I felt a little hungry. The first day is easy, the second day was hard, the third day harder and by days 4 and 5 I was in the groove.  All that being said, I did have plenty to eat, I could still exercise and I felt good – mentally and physically.  I did lose a few pounds but more than that I felt lighter, lost any bloating feelings and my sugar cravings dissipated.  (The sugar cravings going away is a big deal for me as I’m a self-diagnosed sugar addict).  Moreover, I was introduced to a plant based diet and vegan dishes.

A few of my friends and colleagues were interested in the reset cleanse and 5 of us did it again before the holidays.  Some enjoyed it more than others but all agree the food is fantastic.  Since finishing I’ve become a self proclaimed ambassador and another 4-5 friends have tried it as well.  I don’t know that I will do the full 5 days again. After all it isn’t cheap and I feel like I’ve learned a lot and can incorporate those learnings into my daily life.

For one thing, I tweeted Elissa Goodman, the amazing Holistic Nutritionist and creator of the reset. She tweeted me back. From there I emailed with her and had the privilege to chat with her via phone. She recently launched a 21 day program where she provides recipe booklets, grocery lists, cleanse notes and daily email support. The price is $195.  If you are the DIY type I would suggest this. I have not done it yet but I plan to.  I read her blog and follow her religiously on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ve made a number of the recipes on her website. A go to favorite of mine is her Roasted Veggie Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing.  Elissa has been in the press quite a bit and for good reason, she is talented.  She has a cleanse at Cafe Gratitude and custom drinks sold at Erewhon.

Bottom line is that there was no maple syrup cayenne involved and as the title states what I did was Mmmmmm good.

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Saturday Night on the Sunset Strip

A Taste of HerringboneI think the last time I went out on a Saturday night on the Sunset strip may have been when Miyagis’ was my idea of sushi  (and still in business).  Those were fun times. Dinner at Miyagi’s followed by drinks at the Sky Bar. Thanks to Facebook, I saw a friend post she was at the soft opening for Herringbone, a Brian Malarkey restaurant. With friends, family, and clients in San Diego, I knew about Malarkey and his restaurants Herringbone, Searsucker, and Gabardine.  I’d been to Herringbone in La Jolla and was excited to give the LA outpost a try.  By the way one thing you will learn about me is that when it comes to restaurants, I try not to be a repeat offender. Sure I have my favorites but if we are going to get a babysitter and invest in a night out, we want to try something new and get out of the little (though lovely) bubble where we live.

Herringbone is located in the Mondrian in the space formerly occupied by Asia de Cuba.  Our reservation was for 8pm and we arrived a little early.  This was the second night the restaurant was open to the public so my expectations about the service were not too high. That being said from the time we arrived, the service was flawless. In fact this did not seem like a restaurant that just opened.

Perhaps it is because I don’t go out out (yes I meant to write out twice) very often but the people watching was as much a highlight as the food.  I felt like I was watching a mash up episode of the Real Housewives + Kardashians + Shahs of Beverly Hills.  Given the unseasonable heat we are experiencing in Los Angeles women were out in their short shorts,cropped tops, and bustiers. They were rocking these outfits and had the bodies to go along with them.  I’m not sure they were the type that would/could really enjoy a meal (can you really look like that and eat) but we had fun watching as they strutted to their tables like the walk was a runway.

The food. Yes we came there because of the food.  The menu was Herringbone’s signature “Fish Meats Field” fare.  For starters we ordered the carne asada fries, lamb and smoked salmon tartar, wood fired octopus, and apple and cheddar salad.  My husband who does not like the potato product loved the carne asada fries. After all what isn’t there to love when something is smothered in short ribs, cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo.  While I was scared to try the salmon and lamb tartar it was far and away my favorite thing on the menu. If I was a sophisticated food writer I might be able to tell you about the complex combination of flavors, etc but I’m not so all I will say is that it was delicious, I loved it, and if you go you must order this appetizer. The octopus was okay and I didn’t try the salad.

I’m trying to clean up my diet and eating habits. I’ll definitely blog about this later but I have to be honest and tell you I was that person – I stuck to veggies for my entree – yummy brussel sprouts and roasted root vegetables (don’t judge me).  But, the following entrees were ordered at the table  –  seared diver scallops, king crab pasta, sausage & salami pizza.  Everything was tasty though I might advise against ordering pizza.  The report was that it was good but I don’t think this is a restaurant you go to for the pizza.   The brussels sprouts were amazing (4 out of 4 gave thumbs up).  The crab pasta was met with a “it was okay” and the diver scallops received an enthusiastic response.  My friends had the donuts for dessert and they were “the best thing they have TASTED.”

Oh I should have mentioned this earlier but the signature cocktails looked great. My friends each had 2 Peter Rabbit’s (Pimm’s #1, Bruised Basil, Pressed Lemon, & Pickled Carrot) so that must mean they were good.  All in all I would add Herringbone to your list of places to try. I for one had a fabulous time out with my husband and two of our good friends.

By the way I’m playing around with different WordPress templates.  Since I’m new to this whole blogging thing and WordPress, feel free to share any tips you might have.

Better Late Than Never

I realize I’m what you might call a laggard.  I know people have been blogging for years now and that is great for them.  I decided to do this for me and maybe one or two of my friends out there will find a gem or two in what I have to say.  This blog is the vehicle for me to share the things I love.

Speaking of things I love, exercise is high up on the list. I know some of you hate to exercise. Maybe it is because I grew up playing sports, but for as long as I can remember physical activity has been a part of my daily regimen.  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when I finally turned 13 and was able to join a gym.  Thanks mom for supplementing my membership (I did put babysitting money towards it) and helping me get there.  These days I’m not a regular gym goer but I love to try new classes and workout with friends.  One of my favorite places to exercise in Los Angeles is Burn60 in Brentwood.

I’ve been going to Burn60 since it opened many years ago. Prior to having a child (now 7) I went  3-4 times a week. Now if I’m not training for a marathon, I try and take a class once a week.  Quick summary on Burn60. It is a 60 minute treadmill based workout.  You spend half your time on the treadmill and half your time on the floor (resistance training with light weights, bosu balls, kettle bells, push-ups, planks, etc) .  Depending upon the class, the day, the teacher, etc you might do 5 on 5 off, 10 on 10 off, 15 on 15 off, 30 on 30 off, etc.  There are 12 treadmills so at most a class has 24 people in it.  You DO NOT have to be a runner to do Burn60.  There are MANY people who walk on the treadmill.  The great thing about Burn is all the instructors give you recommendations for treadmill speeds: walker, jogger, runner, advanced runner, etc.  This morning’s class was taught by one of my favorite teachers, David Siik. (BTW I also love Keith, Nick, Julie, & Anna).  David is an incredible instructor. He is an accomplished runner and spends a tremendous amount of time crafting each class.  Oh, he’s also a model and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  Today’s workout was everything I’d expect from a Burn60 class.  I ran my butt off and had my arms and abs worked to the point where they were on fire.  This to me is a great thing.  And, I saw some friends plus a ton of familiar faces I’ve come to know over the years.

If you are looking to change things up, add Burn60 to the list of things to try.  Also try a few different instructors as everyone has their own style. Oh, and after class you may be able to score some great shoes at Habit (they are currently having a sale). Burn60