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Ever since I heard about Bazaar opening in the SLS hotel last year, my taste buds have been waiting for the chance to experience the wonders of Jose Andres‘ skill in a Philippe Starck setting. I finally went for my birthday last week-end and I can say now that not only are my taste buds still in awe, but I can’t wait to go back for more. The tapas menu is three pages long, so we lingered over drinks as we tried to narrow down our choices. My sweet drink loving friend Cindy loved the peach Bellini, while Rohini and I had their driest white wine, served in beautiful stemless Riedel glassware.

We began with a mixed marinated beet salad, which Cindy claimed as her dish after one bite of the smooth, slightly tart dish.

We segued on to the delicate garlic shrimp which were so good I could have easily eaten a dozen, but since we had more orders coming, I contented myself with two.

The Smoked Char arrived in a clear cloche because it was literally smoking as it arrived! As our wonderful server opened the cloche, the smoke enveloped the table, allowing us to inhale the heady perfume. This was my favorite dish of the evening. The Char was so mouthwatering that when there was only a tiny bite left, I literally covered the plate so the bus person could not take it away until the last bite was in my mouth!

As we moved on to more seafood, we couldn’t decide which tuna to order, the one cooked with roasted peppers or the tuna ceviche avocado roll (which was literally rolled IN avocado slices), so we ordered both. I preferred the tuna ceviche roll and our waiter Ryan was kind enough to comp us one after we inhaled the first one that arrived. (Ryan also comped us bread and chocolate covered raspberries as gifts; we thanked him for his thoughtfulness with a nice tip.)

We decided to end our savory journey with the crab buns, a cool creamy bite on perfect puffs of bun.

Since they no longer serve the caramelized popcorn balls, we asked our waiter for his dessert suggestion. Ryan simply said Coconut Floating Island and we ordered it without even listening to a description. It was the perfect cloud of chilled coconut foam floating on slices of bananas and caramel; once you broke the dome, the foam flowed like a cloud over the plate, it was so much fun to eat!

All I know is I got my birthday wish of great friends and great food in a gorgeous setting! And I didn’t even have to blow out a candle to get it all!

Please make someone’s day with a random act of kindness:)

My favorite charities would appreciate your donations of time or money:
Feeding America (food)
Amnesty International (freedom)
Habitat for Humanity (housing)
Doctors Without Borders (medical care)

Thank-you all for reading my blog; your appreciation and support are my favorite presents of all.

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet (like me!) because I have friends coming for my birthday tomorrow; I can’t wait to see them and to finally try the food at the four star Bazaar restaurant in the SLS.

If I did not have plans tomorrow, I would be heading over to the Malibu Wine Classic. If you would like to do some good for others, head over to the Malibu Civic Center and you can enjoy wines from about 60 wineries around the “New” Californian wine regions of the Central Coast from Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Food from restaurants like Water Grill, Moonshadows, Saddle Peak Lodge, and the Four Seasons Hotel, will be served and the proceeds go to help prevent child abuse through the charity Child Help. If you buy your entry online you pay $79 instead of $100 at the door ($50 of which goes to Child Help and is therefore tax deductible). Please note that although this is a charity event for the prevention of child abuse, no children are permitted into this venue because alcohol will be served.

Having great food and wine come to your backyard makes life so much nicer, and since the Civic Center is on a hill, you will enjoy a nice view of Santa Monica Bay as you sip and nibble your delights. Remember to designate a driver before you go or take a cab to and from the event, or you may end up becoming a celebrity caught on camera in Malibu for all the wrong reasons.

The Fairmont, the Grande Dame of San Francisco hotels, has just undergone an $85 million dollar restoration and the best way to enjoy the beautiful new rooms is to go see it for yourself. Another great thing to see while you are up North is the hit show Wicked, which is returning to San Francisco tonight. You can combine the two and take advantage of the wicked savings package that Perfect Escapes has for the Fairmont starting at $179 which includes a complimentary room upgrade, early check in (12 noon), late check out (4pm), and 2 wicked-tinis (or other specialty drink) at the hotel’s Laurel Bar. This offer is good until the end of the year, so book your reservation using offer code OID: 938 either online or by phone.

A trip around Halloween would seem to be the perfect time to go take advantage of this wickedly good offer, but when an offer is this good, anytime is a good time for a nice treat.

For all the boys and girls who love, or are from, New York or New Jersey, the Palazzo in Las Vegas has a taste of all you love for a great price.

Lagasse Stadium is opening this September with over 70 Hi-Def TVs, stadium style seating, luxury boxes and outdoor seating. The Palazzo/Venetian wants to get the guys to come out to check it all out. For only $129, you get a suite at the Palazzo (you can upgrade to a 720 sq ft luxury suite for $30 more a night), Creole spiced shrimp and green onion beignets with purchase of two entrees at Lagasse’s Stadium*, a $10 credit towards $50 minimum food purchase with $100 minimum single sports wager at Lagasse’s Stadium, $40 off front orchestra tickets at Jersey Boys, line pass and complimentary admission for two at LAVO, 50% off The Art of Shaving services at The Apothecary at The Shoppes at The Palazzo, Second Level, and $25 in Grazie Slot Credits per stay.

To get this deal, just call or go online and use promo code EPAXOCC and then just forget about it and have a good time.

*If your reservation is made before the grand opening, a substition will be made of either a complimentary glass of wine with the purchase of an entrée at Morels or 20% off your bill at Dal Toro Ristorante.

Have you ever wondered what is the best way to get into a popular nightspot? These days the answer is to get bottle service (meaning you buy a full bottle of alcohol instead of individual drinks for your group). Bottle service usually gets you a preferred seat and service no matter where you go, but how do you get all those advantages without paying through the nose?

There’s now an online bottle service reservation site called Velvet Night Life which allow you to literally make an offer to 17 nightclubs in Los Angeles (future locations include Orange County, Las Vegas, and San Diego) to see which club will accept your bid; think of it as Priceline for nightclubs. The minimum suggested offer is $150 per bottle, but considering some of the choices are Champagnes like Cristal by Louis Roederer, that easily cost hundreds of dollars retail outside of a club, you could snag a great deal if you bid wisely.

After telling them how many in your party and what date you want, you choose the type of music you prefer and specify any particular clubs you want to include in your search. Once all your preferences are selected, you put in your email information and the clubs bid for your business. Once a club accepts your offer, you are treated as a VIP with no cover and no wait in line (that alone is worth buying a bottle). Club choices include Les Deux, The Highlands, Mood, Green Door, Halo, and H. Wood.

How nice to be sought by a club after instead of seeking to get into a club. Go out and party like it’s 2009!

As prolific as sushi restaurants are in Los Angeles, so many are actually bars, nightclubs, fast food joints, fusion, pseudo chains which make California rolls with mayo, or worst of all places where a piece of hacked fish is slapped on a gob of plain rice (shudder).

Ok, so I may be a sushi snob (is that surprising to anyone?), so if you are happy with a big chain supermarket’s sushi, do not read any further. If you are willing to trust the sushi chef with your wallet and your taste buds, then head to your nearest Nobu.

If you are simply wanting to treat your taste buds to fresh clean flavors of classically Japanese sushi and sashimi, the head over to Sugar Fish in Brentwood or Marina Del Rey. These restaurants are the hip younger brothers of the famous sushi nazi, Sushi Nozawa. For those of you not familiar with this icon, I’ll just recommend that you watch the famous Seinfeld episode of the soup nazi, substitute sushi for soup and you’ll get the idea.

Luckily, Nozawa has a good sense of humor, so the most popular menu is the “trust me”, which includes Edamame, Tuna Sashimi, Albacore Sushi (2-pc), Salmon Sushi (2-pc), Yellowtail Sushi (1-pc), Halibut Sushi (1-pc), Toro Hand Roll, and a Crab Hand Roll all for only $23.00.

If you don’t quite trust him, you can order a “trust me lite” which includes Edamame, Albacore Sushi (1-pc), Salmon Sushi (1-pc), Tuna Sushi (1-pc), Nozawa Shrimp Sushi (1-pc) and a Toro Hand Roll all for $13.50.

One of the best benefits of their menus is that you can take them to go, so if you are flying out of LAX, stop by MDR and pick up your in flight meal (they will package all the sauces on the side with instructions for what goes where). With Sugar Fish, you can eat as if you are flying to Asia in First Class even if you are flying coach to Houston, and that is surely worth trusting the chef’s whims.

From fellow blogger Billy Sothern about Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary’s action last week:

May we all give the compassion we would like to receive.

The other day I posted about great deals to fly to London, by if you don’t have time for that trip, take one to the London Hotel in West Hollywood. You can eat at the on site Gordon Ramsey restaurant and judge for yourself if his food is worthy of his attitude, or you can try the Zen fitness program held on the rooftop with Juliet Kaska, who believes fitness should be fun. Either way, stay at least two nights because you get a 50% discount for either 2 nights or two rooms.

Up the street at the Andaz (formerly the Riot Hyatt), you can get a free breakfast with your room or get a second room for 50% off, so bring the kids and give them their own space while you enjoy a spa treatment in yours. If you need anything, the concierge will customize an itinerary for you, so leave your brochures at home and trust the experts here.

If you want to stay in the heart of Hollywood and are a member of Marriott, you get 20% off for your stay at the Renaissance at Hollywood & Highland. Ok, it’s not as good of a discount as the at the other hotels mentioned above, but you can literally walk down to the shopping and entertainment complex adjacent to the hotel, and as they say it’s all about location, location, location. They have package deals for the Hollywood Bowl and Universal Studios, so you could save more by combining your stay with something to do in town.

Hooray for Hollywood discounts!

The summer is almost over and one of my friends has moved near Lake Tahoe, so I have started looking for things to do on my upcoming visit there.

One sport that looks really fun and different is paddling the Lake on what looks like a surfboard (so you stand and paddle), or paddling around in a kayak; either way it is great exercise and very beautiful.

If you want to stay in a wood cabin along the Lake, head over to the Cottage Inn with rates starting at $158 including breakfast. If country cabins are not your style, then the big Harrah’s casino has beautiful rooms and suites all starting at about $90 if you sign up for their special newsletter (the rate is double that if you don’t sign up).

Red Hut is a great place to stop for a huge breakfast with a view of the Lake. Vegans and vegetarians (as well as anyone who likes good fresh food) will like Sprouts (they serve meat too). Evan’s American Cafe has consistently gotten the best reviews for both food and service for their French inspired menus and romantic dinner ambiance.

Looks like I’ll be busy on my trip north; I’ll write with more details after I come back!




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