You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2010.

Some of the best deals are limited in either time or stock, but if you are flexible and spontaneous enough, you can get a steal. For the next 72 hours (give or take a few hours depending on when you are reading this), C&H is having a Delta airfare sale from LAX to Hong Kong for $710. Taxes and charges add another $185, but this still means you can fly roundtrip for under $1000! You may travel between now and May 1 or from August 15 until December 9, 2010 with a maximum 6 month stay. If you are traveling from the East Coast, the fare from JFK is only $593 (plus about $185 in taxes & fees), but maximum stay for this ticket is 90 days.

If you need a place to stay they even have a 3 star hotel for only $93 a night at the City Garden Hotel, so give them a call at 866-266-5264 and book your trip while you still have this window of opportunity.

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I shop at Trader Joe’s nearly every day, alternating between one of three different locations with a five mile radius of my home. One of the locations is the one in Santa Monica on Pico which happens to be across the street from Bite, a newly opened bakery and cafe.

Even though Bite has not “officially” opened, the doors are open, the counters are stocked with luscious baked items, and they are offering breakfast and lunch specials until 2:30 pm everyday. Think of this as your chance to get an “insider’s preview” to the grand opening of the restaurant, which looks like it will be a big hit once the general public finds this place.

In the former Violet space, the interior has been completely redone to reflect a homey cafe, with shelves of books on one wall, artwork on another, and a beautiful display counter of breakfast goodies like croissants, scones, and muffins. For dessert lovers, they also have huge home made “Oreo” patties, brownies, bourbon pecan cookies, double chocolate cookies, and a lime shortbread.

The daily menu is on a blackboard behind the pastry display and along with upscale comfort food like Mumma BITE’s Chicken Pot Pie with Farmer’s Market Micro Salad, accessible gourmet choices like the Toasted Crab Sandwich with Paprika Aioli on Sourdough with watercress Salad, and vegan / vegetarian options like a chickpea “Naandwich” a sandwich with Cilantro and Tomato Salad (Veg+Vegan), they also have daily specials all for under $15 each.

Today’s special was “Death By Pig” or a PLT, made with wonderful chunks of roasted pork, bacon, cracklings, lettuce, tomato, and melted cheese on a fabulous fresh bun slathered with a thin coasting of freshly herbed mayonnaise. The sandwich itself was very hearty (I only finished half of it and took the other half home), but it is served with a nice coleslaw of red and green cabbage and fries that were overcooked to the point of being potato crisps. I would definitely eat only the sandwich if I only had limited stomach space. Service was very friendly and although everyone feels still a bit unsure of what to do, their good intentions outweigh any confusion (like forgetting silverware is needed to eat the coleslaw side).

Since I was smart enough to save room to taste a cookie, I chose the lime shortbread. With lime zest in the crumbly buttery cookie and a light glaze, it was a nice way to finish my meal.

Bite is definitely worth a stop for breakfast or lunch (they currently do not offer a take out service), and eventually they will open for dinner as well. I was very glad to have died and gone to pig heaven today.

“You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.”

~ Isadora Duncan

With Passover beginning today, it fitting that today’s theme is about the freedom we all have to choose our education and our pleasures.

I am always eager to learn a new language, or even a few useful phrases when I travel so that I can communicate in the local language. Any traveler who at least attempts a few words like “Please” and “Thank-you” will have a much better experience in a foreign land. Now everyone can be a better traveler by using a free learning resource from Transparent Language that my friend Susie found online. Transparent Language allows you to either download software to learn a new language or get an email with a new word a day from the language of your choice. You can learn with others in their Facebook community, have common phrases sent to your iPhone, read their cultural and language blogs, and there is even a section with “flash cards” you can use to test yourself. Languages available include Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, and even Esperanto!

Many artists perform for the sheer pleasure of it and now you can listen to their music free every Monday through Mashable’s Free Music downloads. There are a variety of genres offered and all you need to do is click on the link to download your free (full) songs. It is a great way for unknown artists to get some exposure and a following, so this is a mutually beneficial exchange with their audience. If you are a musician you are welcome to submit your songs to be put on a Free Music Monday by emailing the contact address in this post.

L’Chaim – To Life.







Chaya in Venice is one of my go to restaurants for special occasions for the last 20 years; I have celebrated several of my birthdays and a graduation here. Because of their wonderful eclectic Asian food and outstanding service, this is also one of my short listed restaurant recommendations for friends and business acquaintances.

Twenty years in the restaurant business in Los Angeles is like twenty years of a good marriage in this town, a rare and wonderful reminder that some good things do last. Chaya is closing to remodel (a restaurant version of a face lift), from tomorrow, March 27, through Wednesday, March 31, and opening up a mini version of their menu for only $20 per person starting at 5 pm offering all you can eat sushi, beer, wine and sake! All this will be held in the archway next to the restaurant and all proceeds will benefit C-Cap the charity that benefits education in the culinary arts.

It is not often you get to enjoy a longtime favorite at unbeatable prices for a good cause, it’s like winning a culinary trifecta! Go Chaya!

Six took over the old Jack Sprat location at the end of last year, but I haven’t had a chance to try it until today. I went today specifically because one of their menu items is a fried chicken salad that included waffle croutons, and today is International Waffle Day (really, there is an actual day dedicated to waffles). I ordered the fried chicken salad ($13) which was served on a bed of spinach with bacon, cheddar, roasted tomatoes, and the waffle croutons. Perhaps the croutons were invisible, because I didn’t see them when I opened my container, do you? Disappointing considering I could not have my waffle bits on International Waffle Day, but the salad was delicious. The fried chicken was perfectly fried, retaining a crispy coating that enhanced the juicy breast meat with a salty slightly spicy batter, and the roasted tomatoes were succulent and ripe. I even enjoyed the freshly made buttermilk dressing even though the salad was perfectly fine without a sauce.

Since there are six items under every category on the menu (six appetizers, six salads, six pizzas, six entrees, six sandwiches, six sides), there are choices for vegetarians like the Winter Bean Cassoulet served with broccoli rabe, celery root, butternut squash, and wild mushroom ($15), as well as serious carnivores like the Prime NY Steak Frites served with double cooked fries and a cognac cream ($24). Some interesting options include a Roasted Jidori Chicken Breast served with caramelized Brussels sprouts and bacon jam ($18) and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad served with satsumas, roasted almonds and a warm spiced cider vinaigrette ($9).

The redesigned space is more of a pub/bar setting, and although there was one table of women, the vibe was definitely heavy with testosterone. The theme is hues of brown with a rough hewn wood community table and bar and chocolate velvet seat backs lining the wall. It is a warm place to hang out, but it is definitely not a “ladies who lunch” atmosphere.

Six serves serve artisanal beers like the Sam Smith organic English Ale, Jamaica Red Ale (from Humboldt), the local Los Angeles Angel City Lager, and classics like Guiness Stout, all for $5-14. If you aren’t a beer drinker, they also have wines and champagnes at surprisingly reasonable prices including a Louis Latour 2006 Burgundy for $77 a bottle and Perrier-Jouet’s 2000 Belle Epoque for $200, glasses begin at only $5 each for house wines.

The Six Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Hammer Museum is screening a free film on April 1 called “What’s on your plate?“. The film is a documentary that follows two 11 year olds as they visit New York’s food sources, talk to activists, farmers, store owners, and their families as they try to understand what’s on their plates and how it got there. The kids will find out how the food is grown, prepared, shipped, cooked, and what is done with the packaging and leftovers. The screening is at 7 pm and free. Seating will be on a first come first served basis with a question and answer period after the film with the director, star, and actor-activists Ed Begley Jr. and Esai Morales.

This is officially water week, which means that from March 21-27, UNICEF’s TAP program is asking diners to donate $1 per glass of water (yes, including tap water, hence the name) to provide safe drinking water to a child for 40 days. There are over 9,000 eateries which are participating in this endeavor, including local favorites like Swingers, Real Food Daily, and Hugo’s. The complete list is here, and this program is nationwide, so type in your zip code and donate or dine and donate, so that others can drink safely.

Having access to food and water every day is a luxury to many people, so share your resources and your knowledge whenever possible; one day you may need others to do the same for you.

As some people will remember from the classic movie “The Seven Year Itch“, many people yearn for something on the seven year anniversary of a relationship. In the case of a restaurant, the yearning may be for their favorite dishes, the ones they first tasted when the restaurant opened.

One of my favorite restaurants is Grace, and since February 26th was their 7th year “birthday”, they are celebrating with a menu of classic dishes through May 7th. you can order 3 courses for $47, with an optional wine pairing by adding $27, or 5 courses for $57, with an optional wine pairing by adding $37, or get the ultimate Chef’s Menu for $97, with an optional wine pairing by adding $57.

The menu choices include:

Tuna with a Spanish Touch
olive oil, smoked paprika, lemon, crispy castelvetrano olive
2007 Aveleda Alvarinho, Monção, Portugal

Dungeness Crab Salad
english peas, mint, meyer lemon vinaigrette
NV Drusian Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy

Pumpkin & Sea Urchin Risotto
2008 Cooralook Pinot Gris, Victoria, Australia

Wild Burgundy Snails & Braised Short Rib
hearts of palm, garlic nage
2006 Maison Champy “Signature” Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France

Sautéed New Zealand John Dory
herb gnocchi, pea tendrils, wild mushrooms, basil nage
2006 Qupé “Bien Nacido Hillside Estate” Roussanne, Santa Maria Valley, California

Bacon Wrapped Saddle of Rabbit
anson mills polenta, asparagus, thyme infused game stock
2006 Château de Cazeneuve “Les Calcaires” Pic Saint Loup, Languedoc, France

Braised Veal Short Ribs & New Zealand Langoustine
parsnips, button mushrooms, veal jus
2006 Sol Rouge “The Gypsy” Red Blend, Lake County, California

Salted Caramel Doughnuts
bourbon caramel pecan ice cream
Château Laubade Floc de Gascogne, Southwestern France

Grilled Tenderloin of Wild Boar
yukon gold potato spaetzle, brussels sprouts, violet mustard sauce
2008 De Conciliis “Donnaluna” Aglianco, Campania, Italy

Salted Caramel Doughnuts
bourbon caramel pecan ice cream
Château Laubade Floc de Gascogne, Southwestern France

Sticky Toffee Pudding
hazelnut gelato, toffee sauce, brûléed bananas
Quinta do Noval Ten Year Tawny Porto, Douro, Portugal

Chocolate Soufflé Cake Affogato
vanilla malt ice cream, toasted almonds, espresso syrup
Blandy’s Ten Year Malmsey, Madeira, Portugal

The best gift of all is that they will even add something to the menu if you think they are missing a classic from their menu, because we all know that custom birthday gifts are always the best.

Grace on Urbanspoon

How you read things affects the future 🙂

The Warwick in San Francisco has one of the most sought after locations in the city, in the heart of Union Square on Geary, next to the theater district and on a cable car line that runs to Fisherman’s Wharf. When you can get this at a Sunday-Thursday rate of only $79 through April 8, 1020, with a $15 dinner credit at their restaurant LA Scene, and free Internet, the offer becomes a steal for a AAA 3 Diamond hotel featuring Louis XIV style furnishings.

If you want to wait until it gets warmer to go to the foggy city, you can still get a rate of only $89 if you book a stay between April 9-July 8. To get this deal either book through their website or call them at 800-827-3446 with code TZOO.

Don’t forget the LA Marathon will be running from the Rose Bowl to the Santa Monica Pier on Sunday starting at 7:30am, so there will be some street closures and parking restrictions throughout the route. Even if you are not running, you can cheer on those who are 🙂

West Coast or East Coast, whether you are a runner or resort aficionado, I’ve got a deal for you.

The Los Angeles marathon is this week-end and along with all the goodies along the route, the Lago restaurant in Santa Monica (near the end of the route) offers anyone who dines 15 off your food bill if you simply say the word “marathon” during brunch, lunch or dinner. If you actually ran in the race, bring in your number and you will get a double portion of any house-made pasta entree, their braised veal shank ($29), or roasted bone marrow ($12).

If you are heading to New York in April, the five star St. Regis has some great free night or upgrade options for you; stay 3 nights and get 2 free, or book a studio for 3 nights and get a free upgrade to a 1 bedroom, or book a 1 bedroom for three nights and get a complimentary upgrade to a 2 bedroom. Jet Luxury Vacations has these deals on their website or you can call them to book at 877-JETSET9.

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