Brunch with a Conscience

12 Sep "chicken" and waffles

While you’re scratching your head to find a good brunch you’ve never been to for this weekend, consider one that makes you feel a little less guilty.

Crossroads by Chef Tal Ronnen on Melrose Avenue in Santa Monica offers vegan alternatives to your favorite brunch items, and I dare you taste the difference!

The Bloody Mary Cart

Sunday isn’t proper without a Bloody Mary, and at Crossroads they are made table-side with about every pickled substance you can imagine.

Bloody Mary Cart

Chicken and Waffles

A perfect blend of sweet and savory, and with “chicken” that tastes just like the real thing, served with a maple hot sauce, instead of just plain syrup.

chicken and waffles

Oven Roasted Herb Fingerling Potatoes 

Oh and did I mention they’re gluten free?


Crossroads Benedict 

If Chicken and Waffles are too sweet for you, then head to the savory side of the street with some Eggs Benny. Made with herb chickpea panisse and shitake bacon tomato hollandaise, they are another example of some expert wizardry in the kitchen by executive chef Scot Jones.



Crossroads is breaking the glass ceiling of Vegan dining while simultaneously taking the upscale brunch scene by storm. While I won’t be giving up meat anytime soon, it’s good to know it can be done without sacrificing taste…just many tomatoes!



Crossroads on Urbanspoon

LA Food and Wine Festival, four days later, why we keep going back.

27 Aug Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival

As one food festival closes and another one is about to begin (The Taste at Paramount Studios) you have to ask yourself why do we keep going to the gorge-fests?

Yes of course you can attend and taste the chef’s you know never miss a beat like Scott Conant (Scarpetta) and David LeFevre (Fishing with Dynamite)…but the real reason I go is to taste that thing that I’ve never heard of from the chef you’ll be hearing about at festivals to come.

Here are my highlights from two events at this year’s Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival that helped shape my pallet for the rest of 2014!

Champagne & Caviar

I Heart Champagne & Caviar at L’Ermitage epitomized decadence for me on Friday night, all beginning at the door as I was knighted with a caviar spoon around my neck and a champagne flute in my hand!

Unfortunately digging right into the caviar was not encouraged, but don’t put it past Beverly Hills folks to be serving themselves the minute the chef turned his back…

Chef Mirko Paderno

Chef Mirko Paderno of Oliverio

My favorite bite of the night, personal caviar tins lined with crudo from Matthew Accarrino from SPQR in San Francisco.

Matthew Accarrino of SPQR

Matthew Accarrino of SPQR

Sip I most looked forward to but wasn’t completely blown away by…Louis Roederer. Pass me the Perrier-Jouët  any day. 


A taste from the host, Sang Yoon and his Lobster Bahn Mi

Lobster Bahn Mi

Saturday at The Lexus Grand Tasting was a whirlwind of delights, which included 45 minutes of standing in line  purely because of the rumors swirling around that something fantastic was happening. Blame it on the FOMO, but there I was like a lemming, and happy to say I was not disappointed.

The Chef who caused all that fuss,Chef Pawan Mahendro of Badmaash.

The Chef who caused all that fuss,Chef Pawan Mahendro of Badmaash.

Also noteable: Bernhard Mairinger, of  BierBeisl who helped stir up the love of Austrian food I never knew I had with a piece of crispy pork and a smile :)


So why go..year after year and weekend after weekend… to stand in line, and wear a wine glass around your neck?

Because you never know where you next religious food experience will come from…and it just might be from a lamb burger with a picture of Gandhi wearing sunglasses on it!




If you can only go to ONE Los Angeles Food and Wine Event….

19 Aug Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival

…then go to the one that lasts all day!!!!!

The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival is in its 4th year and kicks off in a mere 24 hours! Tickets to many events are still available, but at an average of $150 dollars each you might have to pick your battles.

My suggestion is to stick to the tent-pole events: Ultimate Bites of L.A.The Lexus Grand Tasting & Asian Night Market. However if you are lucky enough to afford one more then make it something that makes you feel spoiled, which for me is always Champagne & Caviar :)

Lexus Grand Tasting

I choose this event because it is $150 versus $195 and takes place in the sunny daylight hours of 12-3 PM, on both Saturday and Sunday. Each day features different chef’s to taste so you could potentially attend both days to really get a sense of what is worth eating, even outside L.A. If you’ve read my previous posts you know about the transformative experience I had with a certain chef from Big Sur, California at last year’s event…


 I Heart Champagne & Caviar

I’m almost certain this event is a preview of what heaven will be like: a diet of Champagne & Caviar on a rooftop in Beverly Hills. Chef Sang Yoon of Lukshon in Culver City is hosting this decadent evening of delights along with his friends, Perrier-Jouët & Louis Roederer. You will find me in the corner hanging out with both of them :)

This event takes place on Friday August 22nd from 6:30 PM-8:30 PM at L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills and the cost is $150.

Champagne & Caviar

Tickets are still available by clicking here. The 4th Annual Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival runs from Thursday August 21st-Sunday August 23rd.

Happy Tasting!

Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival

8/22/14, 6:30p – 8:30p
BEVERLY HILLS: Rooftop – L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
Price: $150.00

- See more at:

National Filet Mignon Day!

13 Aug

It’s August 13th 2014, which means of course that it’s National Filet Mignon Day!

Don’t worry if you forgot the holiday because luckily for you there are still places you can celebrate!

Firefly in Studio City is honoring one of their most celebrated dishes and recognizing National Filet Mignon Day with a throwback deal and a new Chef!

Executive Chef Paul Shoemaker (French Laundry, Water Grill, and Providence) is bringing his culinary talents and understanding of traditional California cuisine to the Valley as the new Executive chef of Firefly.

Now on to the “meat” of this post :)

Follow the steps below to earn yourself a Filet Mignon Entree for only $16.

1. Make a Reservation at Firefly in Studio City
2. Spend the time before your reservation to look around and take a photo that relates to Firefly. Next promptly instagram it to @FireflyStudioCity with the hashtag #waybackwednesday
3. Show the server the fabulous photo you took
4. Receive a Filet Mignon entrée for $16 (on August 13 only)


National Filet Mignon Day


Firefly on Urbanspoon

Win Free Cupcakes for a Year!

9 Aug Pinot & the Cupcake

The Jewel City just got a little shinier because Sprinkles at The Americana Mall in Glendale has officially opened it’s doors!

Sprinkles Cupcakes Glendale

Hours are on average 10 AM-10 PM, but if you get a case of the midnight cupcake cravings there is also a 24-hour cupcake ATM. 

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM

Dogs love it too!! Special dog friendly cupcakes are sugar free and made with special yogurt frosting.

Pinot & the Cupcake

Not sweet enough?…Well now until Tuesday August 12th 50 cupcakes will contain golden tickets for prizes including $250 gift cards! At about $4 a cupcake, that is just enough to get your 365 day fix!

Caroline & Pinot

Unfortunately I didn’t get one :(…but that only means more chances for you!

Caroline and no Cupcake


Sprinkles Cupcakes

889 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210


How you can help save the world, and taste six chefs, all in one night!

8 Aug Taco

If you have been thinking to yourself that you would like to do more to help others while also eating well , then I have found the charity event for you!!

Dinner Lab Los Angeles is an exclusive members-only club that pairs undiscovered chefs with explorative diners, and on August 14th you can be one of them!

With Love to Mexico is an event created by Chef Francisco Guzman whose goal is to help bring awareness to the rampant drug cartels and their impact on the Mexican community. The evening will feature cuisine from some of L.A.’s top chefs who will be creating dishes from the six most affected regions in Mexico with all proceeds going to Mexico Unido.

To eliminate any guesswork, I have included the list of chef’s along with a menu below.

For more information on how you can give some Love to Mexico, feel free to message me or click here!

1Yucatan Meridia (Gilberto Cetina from Chichen Itza)
Tacos de Pulpo: braised octopus | calamari ink sauce | pickled chiles | handmade tortilla

2Oaxaca (Matt Dhillon from Fattoria Del Vicario Culinary Institute)
Masa Harina Empanada de Pollo: aguacate crema | smoked queso | asaderoa

3Nayarit (Phillip Franklin Lee from Scratch Bar)
Oyster Zarandeado: preserved papaya | smoked sugar cane | ancho chilli

4Morelia Michoacan (Francisco Guzman from Scratch Bar)
Uchepo: chorizo carmel | jocoque | raja mostrada

5Jalisco (Jason Fullilove from Malibu Pier Restaurant)
Love Braised Birria: crispy red rice cake | grilled corn purée | pickled red onions

6Puebla (Ryan Turner from City Tavern)
Mole Panna Cotta: cured pineapple | chapulin brittle






A Guide to Navigating the Outdoor Concert Scene in LA

5 Aug The Greek Theater, Los Angeles

Summer is Los Angeles is my favorite time to go out and explore all the glorious concerts spaces that our mild weather affords us!  While my favorite is hands down the Hollywood Bowl, I got a chance to “get to the Greek” last week and found myself with an extreme lack of information for a first timer! If you want to avoid overpaying for what you don’t have to, read on.

A Guide to the Greek Theatre

My favorite thing about the Hollywood Bowl happens to be my least favorite thing about the Greek Theater…no outdoor food allowed. Since I enjoy a snack while I rock out, I began my search for food offered at the theater and was led to a page on their website of overpriced picnic baskets. I couldn’t find any a-la-carte offerings so I went with the cheapest basket–$45 dollars!! One positive is that you can tag on a bottle of wine for $22.50, but turns out you can also purchase those same bottles sans basket all over the venue. So for the future:

A. Skip the Picnic Basket because Patina this is not. $45 dollars for something that was put together from a selection at the Ralph’s Deli AND forces you to get to the theater an hour before the show so they don’t give away your basket…no good.


B. Skip the early bird parking rate. You might feel the need to pre-pay $30 dollars for a Click and Park experience to avoid the  horrors of stacked parking, but it turns out you can park for $20 dollars at a non-stacked lot that just requires just a few more steps.

C. See the concessions stand, for reasonably priced bottles of wine and kettle corn. You can always eat when you leave!

The Greek Theater, Styx & Foreigner Concert

A Guide to the Hollywood Bowl

You already know this is my favorite outdoor concert venue in LA, and the reason is because you can make the cheap seats the best seats! Here’s how:

A. Skip the mad box office rush and wait to get your tickets same day on Craigslist or same week from “The Zoo” (aka because The Hollywood Bowl offers only good seats! I actually prefer to sit further away from the stage to get a better overall view. I also make sure I’m always seated on the aisles, so I can take over the area while I’m there, and make a mad dash when I’m ready to leave! Avoid the middles at all costs, because in a venue with bench seating, there’s a good chance you’ll run into someone who thinks they deserve 3 seats instead of 1 (like this lady :))

B. Skip the concessions stand, unless it’s a lease event. Otherwise you’re free to bring in all the food and drinks-alcohol included-that you want and eat in your seats!

C. Skip the stacked parking, and walk down the hill to the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Cahuenga and Franklin. Yes the parking is $15-$20, but all the money goes to charity.

The Hollywood Bowl

A Guide to the LA Forum 

Ok so I’m not that familiar with the Forum, but for the remainder of the 2014 season, Post & Beam in Baldwin Hills will offer a complimentary dessert with the purchase of any pizza or large plate to guests who present their concert ticket stub for that evening’s show.  Located only 4 miles from the venue, Post & Beam makes for a great place to grab a bite before or after the show. My recommendation is a P&B Sweet Potato Pie, with pecan praline, whipped cream, and a touch of soul…

sweet potato pie+post & beam






Eat More Pay Less-5 Meals under $10 in LA

22 Jul cheap eats, 5 for $10 in LA, Los Angeles Eating

While some skeptics might be claiming that we’re losing the LA dining scene to the $100 prix fixe menu, there are still a few places you can get your fix for about $5. Here is a list of some of my favorites!
5. Chego 

From the father of the food truck movement, Roi Choi, comes his restaurant with seats in Downtown LA. Diners can enjoy Kimchi Spam Bowls for 8$ ,and his famous Beer Battered Ooey Gooey Fries for only $6.


4. Pink’s Hot Dog

An institution since 1939 with a chili dog still available for $3.85. Come with a bag of nickels to count while you’re there to help you pass the time you’ll spend waiting in line.


3. Ink.Sack 

Pop into Michael Voltaggio’s Ink Jr. for a unbelievably reasonably priced “sando” My two favorites are the the jose andres, aka “the spanish godfather” made with ham, tomato, chorizo, and manchego for $6, and the cold fried chicken for $5.


2. Porto’s Bakery

Although technically not in LA, this Valley favorite is worth the drive to get some spectacular Cuban food. A freshly pressed Media Noche sandwich will only set you back $4.25-which is about the price of the gas it will take to get to Burbank or Glendale.


1. In-N-Out Burger

No list would be complete without a burger from In-and-Out. My personal favorite being  a cheeseburger “animal style” off their not so secret menu. If you really want to keep the bill down, skip the fries, which are a little too timid for my taste. Your total cost will still be under $3 even after a recent 10 cent price hike!


Pink's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

The Top 3 ways to make the most out of Dine LA this Year.

10 Jul

Dine LA  kicks off this coming Monday July 14th, and with meals ranging from $15-45, it’s easy to get carried away. Here are my top 3 tips for navigating the prefixes!

1. Analyze why you want to go to a particular restaurant in the first place. If you’ve been dying to go to Boa to have a steak, make sure steak is actually on the menu. This year for example Entrée choices include a Kobe Brisket Sandwich, Chicken Pallard, and a Penne pasta, so unless you are going for the people watching, it might be best to find another spot.

2. Have lunch instead of dinner. The prices for lunch range from $15-$25, and usually the food is identical to the dinner menu, but maybe without a desert.

3. Don’t let those prices pull the wool over your wallet! Yes DineLA offers much lower prices than you might get during a normal night out, but if your $45 dollar dinner pre-fixe begins with the house salad, and moves on to the basic chicken, then you might want to skip the pre-fixe and just order a-la-carte.

That being said here are few places to get the most dime in your dine!
Piccolo Venice-5 courses for $45 dollars to have some of the best pasta in the city

• Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air for unheard of prices; $25 for lunch and $45 for dinner. When a 4 course lunch costs the same as your valet ticket…you know you found a good one.

• Rivabella for a $25 for a 3 course lunch, offering their famous Lasagne Nonna Elvira, which costs $20 by itself.

• Fig and Olive for either $25 or $45. Superior value and a plethora of choices. And a place where I would recommend you have the chicken :)


Rivabella on Urbanspoon

5 Best Places for Fireworks in the Sky and in your Mouth!

2 Jul hollywood-bowl_24_570x559

Here is my list of the 5 best places to watch fireworks on the 4th of July and what to Eat when you’re there!

5. Grand Park

Celebrate July 4th starting at 4 PM with the largest block party and biggest rooftop fireworks display in Downtown LA. Best of all it’s free! Worst of all there is no alcohol allowed. So go late, watch the fireworks at 9, and then head out to a spectacular dinner at Patina with all the money you’ve saved.


4. Rose Bowl Stadium 

Starting at 2 pm you can be part of “Americafest”, the largest fireworks show in Southern California. Ironically the headline band is a British Beatles cover group…but that doesn’t mean you still can’t feel patriotic! My suggestion for great afternoon, pick up some sammies from The Oinkster in Eagle Rock and bring some suds to tailgate with.


3. Marina del Rey

The fireworks in Marina Del Rey begin at 9 PM, which gives you ample time to have a three course Americana inspired meal at Cafe del Rey. They will be offering seating at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM, for $60 dollars and $80 respectively, $80 dollars you can watch the fireworks directly from your table…or spend $60 and linger around your car :)

cafe del rey

2. Hotel Irwin

For one of the best views on the west-side, head over to the High Rooftop Lounge at the Hotel Irwin for a great view of the fireworks from the only rooftop bar in Venice. While you’re there you can enjoy a array burgers and bites from Barlo Kitchen & Bar Downstairs.


1. Hollywood Bowl

Perhaps I’m partial, but in my opinion there is no better show than the fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl, especially because you eat and drink in the comfort of your own seats! Tickets are still available to this year’s fireworks extravaganza with Steve Martin and many more!! Too lazy to pack a meal, then enjoy something from The Public Kitchen & Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel before or after the show.




Barlo on Urbanspoon

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